Mike Berman’s Washington Watch

October 4, 2014 11:59 AM

President Obama

The public’s grade on the job President Obama is doing (as found by Gallup 9/28) is 43% approval/52% disapproval.

In August 2014, the NBC/WSJ survey found women with a disapproval rating of 47% and an approval rating of 46%. In September, that same survey has found with a 52% disapproval rating and a 42% positive rating among women.

Of the five most recent two-term Presidents at this point in their second term, Obama’s current approval rating is essentially tied with George W Bush. He trails Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and Dwight Eisenhower. (By this date Richard Nixon had left office.) The list of 5 follows:

  Approve Disapprove
Clinton 66 31 (9/24/98)
Reagan 63 26 (9/17/86)
Eisenhower 54 28 (9/29/58)
GW Bush 44 51 (9/17/06)
Obama 43 52 (9/28/14)

Sept. 2014 40/54% 42/51% 44/52% 40/50%
August 2014 40/54% xxx xxx 41/50% (CBS)
June 2014 42/53% xxx 43/55% 40/54%
March 2014 41/54% 46/50% 43/53% 43/50%
Jan 2014 43/51% 45/52% 45/51% 46/47% (CBS)
July 2013 45/50% 49/44% xxx 48/45% (CBS)
Jan 2013 52/44% 55/41% 55/43% 51/41%

53% disapprove of the job Obama is doing in handling the economy, and 62% disapprove of the way he is handling foreign policy. The number disapproving his handling of foreign policy is the highest recorded in the NBC/WSJ survey. This level of disapproval is 13% points higher than it was a year ago (8/14) . The NYT/CBS survey in mid-September showed Obama with a 34% approval rating on foreign policy, which is the lowest finding on this subject in that poll since Obama took office.

Again, when it comes to handling foreign policy, women’s support of Obama has started to fade. In August 2014, 43% approved his handling of foreign policy and 52% disapproved. Now there has been a 10-point drop in women’s support of his handling of foreign policy, with an approval rating of 33% and a disapproval rating of 60%. [NBC/WSJ 9/14]

41% of Americans are at least somewhat satisfied on how the Obama Presidency has gone so far, while 57% are somewhat/very disappointed. [NYT/CBS 9/14]

When President Obama came into office, 99 of the U.S. appellate court judges had been appointed by Republican Presidents and 65 had been appointed by Democratic Presidents. As of today, 95 of the current appellate court judges have been appointed by Democrats and 77 of the jurists by Republican Presidents. [NYT 9/14/14]

When it comes to how Americans “feel” about Obama, 46% say they have negative feelings and 42% have positive feelings. A year ago, 45% had positive feelings and 42% had negative feelings. [NBC/WSJ 6/14]

By 55% to 38%, Americans think that Obama has done more to divide the country than to unite it. They also believe that Republicans in Congress have done more to divide than unite the country, by 63% to 27%. [WP/ABC 9/14]

Obama faces a variety of difficult choices as he come to grips with the dangers posed by ISIS (or ISIL if that is your preference). The American public seems to be warming to the task of substantial engagement. 45% of Americans believe that ISIS poses a very serious threat to the United States. Another 23% describe the threat as fairly serious. [CNN/ORC 9/14]

In the early September 2014 NBC/WSJ survey, 34% of Americans were willing to have American airstrikes and combat troops used in this struggle; 40% wanted any action limited to airstrikes. Three weeks later, in the NBC/WSJ Annenberg survey, 45% support air strikes and ground troops, and 72% believe the United States will use ground troops.

75% believe it is at least somewhat likely that the U.S. will eventually send ground troops into combat against ISIS, even though 60% oppose the involvement of U.S. ground troops. [CNN/ORC 9/14]

Conventional wisdom at the moment is that Obama’s Presidency is all but over, and that nothing will happen in the final two years of his tenure. The same case was made at about the same time in the terms of Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.

In a NYT article, James Mann makes the case that all three of these latter Presidents had significant achievements in the 7th and 8th years of their term. Interestingly, all of the actions mentioned were international in nature. At least at this moment it appears that a significant part of Obama’s focus in the next two years will be the international stage. [NYT 9/22/14]

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