Friday, March 6, 2009

Putting Obama's Approval Ratings In Perspective

President Obama loses the poll comparison to President Bush

Peter Wehner, writing for NRO, has some observations about the latest numbers.

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Here’s an interesting data point comparison: Barack Obama’s approval rating in the Gallup Poll today is 61 percent, with 28 percent disapproving (the Real Clear Politics aggregate of polls has his overall job approval rating at 59.8 percent). A March 5-7, 2001 Gallup poll found President Bush's job approval at 63 percent as well, with only 22 percent disapproving. So George W. Bush, at a comparable time in his presidency, was in marginally better shape than Barack Obama is right now, at least based on the Gallup Poll survey.
This runs counter to conventional wisdom that Obama is tremendously popular, and that Bush (based on the divisive nature of the 2000 election) was not. In fact, according to the Gallup Poll data, what President Bush did was rise in the esteem of the public during the first five weeks of his presidency, while Obama has lost a bit of altitude.
It’s worth adding that there was a lot of chatter yesterday about the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll which showed Barack Obama's numbers at an all-time high. But that was based on people’s “feelings toward” Obama (68 percent very or somewhat positive), rather than the more traditional job approval question (which showed Obama at 60 percent approval).
George W. Bush’s greatest moment in his presidency was still months off. We will see if Barack Obama, facing a crisis of a different kind, is able to meet the challenge before him. So far, with the market having plunged on his watch and lost trillions of dollars in the process, and still with no serious plan on how to deal with the banking system and toxic assets, the early signs are not encouraging. But it’s still very early. Life and politics, as we have all learned, has many surprises.

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