Opinion: One month in, Barack Obama’s approval slips, disapproval doubles

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One month down, 47 to go.

And Barack Obama’s poll numbers have slid almost 10% already. According to the latest Gallup Poll, the new president’s approval rating of 68% in January has slipped now to 63%, about average for recent new presidents one month in.

What isn’t average, however, is Obama’s new disapproval rating -- 24%, or 50% higher than the 16% average for a month-old new presidency.


And it’s twice the 12% disapproval rate that Obama had last month.

While liberal and independent support has held fairly steady, the rookie chief executive’s approval among Republicans has plunged from 41% to 30%, presumably tied at least somewhat to growing awareness of the spending program. The drop has been especially steep among conservatives, from 36% at inauguration to 22% now.

Additionally, Obama’s support has weakened among middle-class Americans, those touted during the campaign as benefiting from his promised tax cuts. Among that working crowd, Obama’s approval fell from 69% to 58%.

Tonight’s speech before a joint session of Congress and a nationwide television audience will give the new 47-year-old president an opportunity to make his case, not just for his already-signed but still controversial economic stimulus package but for his own evolving style of executive leadership.

And to possibly put the crumpled Cabinet nominations of recent weeks behind him.

Historically, 63-62% approval after a month is about average; Ronald Reagan had the worst at 55%, and Jimmy Carter had the best at 71%. Look how they turned out.

In fact, after 30 days, the Gallup Poll shows Obama has about the same approval rating as did George H.W. Bush and his son, George W. Bush, the man whose eight years in office the Illinois senator so often denounced as destructive during the recent campaign.

What’s surprising, as the astute Don Surber points out this morning, is that the gap between approval and disapproval is worse now for Obama than it was for the newly departed Texan after his first month. Bush’s differential gap was 41 points between approval and disapproval. Obama’s is 39 points, still above Bill Clinton, who had the worst differential of 30 points. Carter again had the best after one month of 62. Richard Nixon had 54.

The new Gallup survey involved 1,614 adult Americans between Feb. 19-21 with a margin of error of +/-3%.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo (top): A shooting star. Credit: Getty Images

Photo (bottom): Associated Press