While the mainstream press routinely reports that President Obama is riding high and that Republicans are reeling, Gallup tells a rather different story about the popularity of our newly reelected president. Across Gallup’s entire history of presidential job-approval polling — dating back to 1945 — every president but one has had a higher job-approval rating in the January following his reelection than Obama has. No president has had a lower rating than Obama’s.
Gallup shows Obama’s average approval rating so far this January as being just 52 percent. President George W. Bush’s average approval rating in January 2005, immediately following his reelection, was also 52 percent. This can hardly be a source of satisfaction for Obama, who ran against Bush not once but twice — without Bush’s being on the ticket either time.
But it gets worse. President Clinton beat Obama by 8 percentage points, as Clinton’s average approval rating in January 1997 (immediately following his reelection) was 60 percent. President Reagan beat Obama by 11 points, as his average approval rating in January 1985 was 63 percent. President Nixon beat Obama by 7 points, as his average approval rating in January 1973 was 59 percent. President Eisenhower beat Obama by 21 points, as his average approval rating in January 1957 was 73 percent. And President Truman — who barely beat Thomas Dewey— beat Obama by 17 points, as Truman’s average approval rating in January 1949 was 69 percent.
So, out of the seven postwar presidents who won reelection — a test that only Presidents Johnson, Carter, and George H. W. Bush failed (as President Kennedy was killed in office and President Ford was never elected in the first place) — Obama is currently tied for last place in popularity. Moreover, Truman, Eisenhower, Nixon, Reagan, and Clinton not only all had higher approval ratings at this stage of their presidencies than Obama does, but their approval ratings dwarfed Obama’s — beating his by an average of 13 points.
By historical standards, Obama can hardly be viewed as entering his second term as a strong, popular, and well-respected president.