Opinion: Just as things were looking up, Obama’s annual job approval average puts him near the postwar bottom


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As if the poll showing improved approval of Congress under partial Republican leadership wasn’t discouraging enough, now comes a new survey showing President Obama’s second-year job approval near the bottom of presidents elected in the last six decades or so.

Heading into the president’s crucial 2011 State of the Union address next Tuesday evening, Gallup finds that Obama’s second-year job approval averaged only 46.7%.


That really looks pathetic when compared to his predecessor, George W. Bush’s second-year average job approval of 71.3%. Or to the next highest second-year postwar job approval of 66.8% held by -- oh, look! -- another president named Bush. Of course, both of them were Republicans.

Even Richard ‘I Am Not a Crook’ Nixon had a majority 56.2% approval after two years.

But don’t forget that fellow Democrat Jimmy Carter also had a miserable second-year job approval of 45.3%. And he fought back from that basement approval to win a resounding second term. Oh, no. wait. He didn’t. He got crushed in 1980, even with a third-party candidate.

Anyway, despite Congress, the current Democrat in the Oval Office still has 655 days to right the SS Job Approval. Bill Clinton (45.9%) and Ronald Reagan (43.3%) pulled it off for second terms, though both of them had been experienced governors, not untested legislators.

According to Gallup, Obama is on the high end of approval declines from first to second years (a slide of 10.5 points), behind only Carter (down 16.6 points) and Reagan (down 13.8 points).

Not surprisingly, Gallup finds the third-year average approval is key to reelection in the fourth year. Of the three presidents most similar to Obama’s second-year showing, two improved the third year -- Reagan and Clinton. They were reelected. The third declined. That was Carter. Enough said.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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