President Obama, who won the White House with an electoral college landslide and enjoyed soaring public approval in the weeks after his inauguration, has fallen to a 50% job approval rating in the newest daily tracking of the Gallup Poll released Thursday.
The new low for Obama compares with his peak public job approval rating of 69% after his inauguration in January.
The president’s sliding approval ratings in the Gallup and other national polls this summer have paralleled growing unrest about his healthcare plans.
Polls also show that Obama has lost support for his handling of the economy, although his approval ratings for handling foreign affairs remain higher.
The loss of support for the president on domestic issues has made it more difficult for the White House to rally support in Congress for his healthcare initiative, with lawmakers looking at midterm elections a little over a year away.
Should the slide continue, Obama would by no means be the first president to drop below 50% in the Gallup Poll, which has been tracking public approval of presidents since Harry S. Truman.
But Obama has reached his new low more quickly than most of his predecessors did, Gallup said. The percentage of people voicing disapproval for Obama’s job performance stands at a near-high of 43%.
Aides to the president said he was not fixated on polling data. Obama entered office with high ratings, White House Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton said Thursday, but never thought they were “something he should put up on a shelf and admire.”
“It’s real easy to stay popular in Washington if you don’t do anything at all,” said Burton, adding that the president doesn’t believe in working that way.
Slipping below 50% before November of the first year in office would represent the third-fastest drop since World War II, Gallup reports.
President Ford slipped below 50% in his third month; President Clinton hit the mark in his fourth month. Ford’s rating was partly spurred by his unpopular decision to pardon former President Nixon in 1974.
It took President Eisenhower five years to fall below 50%, Gallup said. It took Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush each about three years. It took Presidents Johnson and Nixon more than two years.
It’s not an irreversible trend, Gallup said. Clinton and President Reagan, who dropped below majority approval “faster than most other presidents,” easily won reelection.
The latest findings of the Gallup Poll come from surveys of about 1,500 adults conducted Tuesday through Thursday, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
Christi Parsons of the Washington bureau contributed to this report from Martha’s Vineyard, Mass.