Mike Berman’s Washington Watch

February 17, 2012 11:57 AM

President Obama

Barack Obama is not a typical politician or President. He eschews the usual touchy-feely aspects of the political dance. In many ways he is inscrutable. He is described by many as a loner. The number of Members of Congress who talk about never being in contact with the President is legion. And he certainly is not a back-slapper. In short, he seems to see himself as above the traditional expectations we have of Presidential behavior.

On the other hand, he has proven himself to be a timely decision maker in difficult situations. He seems to know what he thinks and why he thinks it. He has not allowed himself to be labeled as a “liberal” or a “moderate,” giving himself leeway to vary as circumstances dictate. And, there is no doubt that he is a fighter.

Later this year we will find out whether the public at large buys his incarnation of the Presidency.

Americans are split three ways on whether Obama has brought “the right kind of change” to the country or any change at all to the country. As you recall, “change” is what he promised in the 2008 campaign.

35% say he has brought the right kind of change

32% say he has brought the wrong kind of change

31% say he has not brought much change either way. [NBC/WSJ 1/12]

With 8-1/2 months to go before the general election, the public’s grade for the job he has done so far is lower than that of six previous Presidents, and above one, at this point in their first term.

The President’s current job approval rating in Gallup is 46%. The following is the list of 8.

  Approve Disapprove
Eisenhower 75 15
Reagan 55 36
Clinton 53 40
Nixon 52 37
Carter 52 38
GW Bush (II) 51 46
Obama 46 47 (2/12)
G Bush (I) 39 47

The following are several additional cuts at the President's job approval rating over the last six months. There is a consistency among these major media surveys.

February 2012 --- 50/43% 50/46% 50/48%
January 2012 48/46% 45/47% (CBS) 48/48% 47/51%
December 2011 46/48% 44/46% (CBS) 49/47% 49/48%
November 2011 44/51% --- 44/53% 44/54%
October 2011 44/51% 46/46% 42/54% 54/52%
August 2011 44/51% 48/47% 42/54% 45/52%

The President’s approval rating for all of 2011 was 44%. His average for the year was less than any of the previous 8 Presidents, except for Jimmy Carter who scored a 37.4% average.

For his first year in office, Obama had a 57.2% average. [Gallup]

Here is how the President’s performance is rated on a number of other issues. On the issues which are most prominent in American’s minds, the economy and job creation, his rating is subpar. [Gallup]

  Approve Disapprove
Economy 38% 59%
Creating jobs 40% 58%
Foreign affairs 48% 46%
Foreign trade 38% 48%
Healthcare policy 41% 56%
National defense 53% 42%
Taxes 45% 51%

By 47% to 38%, Americans disapprove of the job that Obama has done in creating jobs for them. 54% disapproved in January 2011. [CBS/NYT 2/12]

By 47% to 37%, adults believe that President Obama is more likely than Congressional Republicans to offer tax and spending proposals that reflect their own priorities. [UT/NJ Connection Poll 2/12]

There has been only the slightest droop in the approval of Catholics for President Obama following the dust up with the Catholic Church hierarchy over making contraception available to workers at Catholic institutions, like hospitals and schools. Churches are exempt.

Polls also show that approval by Catholics mirrors the population at large, and there is no difference between those who attend church weekly and those who go less often. [Gallup 2/12]

However, 50% of the public at large disapproves of the new policy, even though 81% of the public at large, including 77% of Catholics, do not think that using artificial means of birth control is wrong. [CNN/ORC 2/12]

37.7 million people, on 14 different networks, watched President Obama’s 2012 State of the Union Address to the Congress, January 24th. The audience was down from 42.7 million viewers in 2011 and 48 million viewers in 2010.

111.3 million people viewed the Super Bowl on 1 network on February 5th.

2.1 million unique viewers watched the game online. This is the first time there was a live stream of this game, and it was the “most-watched single-game sports event” online. [WP 2/9/12]

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