A new Gallup poll finds that President Barack Obama remains popular — but not extraordinarily so and that his honeymoon is slowing coming to an end.
The big development in the honeymoon drawing to a close: Obama is holding firm on his support from Democrats and independent voters, but he’s losing the support of Republicans — particularly of conservative Republicans.
President Barack Obama remains highly popular among the U.S. public at the end of his first month in office. However, the 63% of Americans currently approving of his job performance is down slightly from his initial 68% rating in January. The percentage disapproving has doubled, from 12% to 24%.
Increased public disapproval of Obama over the past month is mainly offset by a decrease in the percentage of Americans saying they have no opinion of his job performance. The latest figures are based on Gallup Poll Daily tracking from Feb. 19-21.
These shifts result in a slightly different profile for Obama relative to past presidents than what he enjoyed in the immediate afterglow of his inauguration. While Obama’s initial 68% job approval rating was one of the highest in Gallup polling history (from Dwight Eisenhower through George W. Bush), his current 63% job approval rating is typical of how the last several presidents have fared at the one-month mark.
The key factor which has been noted in other posts on polls here: he is losing GOP support amid what Gallup calls “heightened partisanship”. The key group of Republicans turning thumbs down? Conservative Republicans.
According to Gallup polling on all elected presidents from Richard Nixon through George W. Bush (this excludes Gerald Ford, who assumed office after Nixon resigned), the range of job approval for new presidents after about a month in office extends from 55% for Ronald Reagan to 71% for Jimmy Carter. The average one-month approval rating for all six past presidents is 62% — nearly identical to Obama’s current 63%.
The average first-month disapproval rating for these same past presidents was 16%. However, Obama’s slightly higher 24% disapproval score is similar to those seen for the most recent two presidents — Bush and Bill Clinton — perhaps owing to heightened partisanship or media scrutiny in recent years.
Obama is holding firm among Democrats and independents…but losing GOPers:
Obama has not retained his initial level of job approval mainly because rank-and-file Republicans — who already lagged well behind Democrats in their approval of Obama in January — have quickly become even more critical.
According to weekly aggregates of Gallup Poll Daily tracking interviews, Obama has lost no support from Democrats and independents since taking office, but his approval rating from Republicans has dropped steadily week by week, from 41% at the start of his term to just 30% today.
If this trend continues it means Obama will have to govern in a coalition mostly composed of Democrats and independents. Various reports suggest the Republicans are digging in for what can be a long ideological battle where the two “c words” (consensus and and compromise) are largely unwelcome.
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.