Opinion: Obama’s fifth-quarter Gallup approval slips, among worst 3 of modern presidents


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Just back this afternoon from yet another fundraising trip to California, collecting several million dollars and some gay protesters in Los Angeles without any public events, President Obama has already agreed to return to the Golden State again next month for more money harvesting.

This time he’ll head up north to San Francisco, Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s home turf, to raise more money for the same almost 70-year-old embattled incumbent Democrat Sen. Barbara Boxer. In May. To be fit in around a whole panoply of other fundraisers in coming weeks and months.


Took only a few minutes for Republican National Committee spokesman Jahan Wilcox to slip in a shot: ‘The jet fumes of Air Force One haven’t even cleared and already Barbara Boxer is begging for an encore. Obviously the internals in the Boxer campaign indicate that she is going to have the fight of her political career.’

But before seeking more political handouts comes disappointing new poll news for....

...the Real Good Talker, putting him right down there with Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan in terms of average approval ratings in the fifth quarter of their presidency.

A new Gallup Poll just out finds Obama’s fifth quarterly poll score (Jan. 20-April 19) to be 48.8% job approval, down from his fourth quarter approval of 50.8%. Carter was 48% and Reagan 46.3%.

The average fifth quarterly score since Gallup began tracking it in 1945 is 54%.

One very slim sign of hope for Obama comes from a new ABC News poll that finds a few people believe the economy is getting even worse, now 30% versus a recent 36%. Alas, 92% still think the economy under Obama is in bad shape.

Here’s something that would really annoy the current White House crowd if it paid attention to public opinion polls, which of course it doesn’t, being so focused on doing what’s right for the American people. But by far the best fifth-quarter presidential job approval in modern history was George W. Bush’s 79.5%.

Bush’s approval helped fuel a historical anomaly, the White House party actually increasing its congressional membership in a first midterm, 2002. Only Franklin Delano Roosevelt pulled that off before Bush, in 1934, which is even before Joe Biden was in the Senate.

Bush’s top approval is followed by John F. Kennedy at 78%. Dwight Eisenhower was 67.8%, Richard Nixon 56.6% and Bush’s father, 70.5%.

By this point in his presidency Bill Clinton had slipped to 52.1% approval en route to such a disastrous first midterm election that the Democratic Party lost control of both houses of Congress to the Republicans for the first time in four decades.

Coincidentally, Obama’s Democratic Party also controls both houses of Congress, as it has since 2007. And midterm elections come Nov. 2.

Naturally, such polls are not always predictive of future presidential outcomes. Republican Reagan, of course, went on from a poor poll start to two successful terms, including a landslide second term reelection over some hapless ex-senator from Minnesota. One-term Carter, of course, went on to building homes for Habitat for Humanity and annoying Israel.


-- Andrew Malcolm

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