A new Gallup Poll finds President Barack Obama’s approval rating sliped nine points during his third quarter — and he set a record of sorts…but not one the White House is likely to tout:
In Gallup Daily tracking that spans Barack Obama’s third quarter in office (July 20 through Oct. 19), the president averaged a 53% job approval rating. That is down sharply from his prior quarterly averages, which were both above 60%.
In fact, the 9-point drop in the most recent quarter is the largest Gallup has ever measured for an elected president between the second and third quarters of his term, dating back to 1953. One president who was not elected to his first term — Harry Truman — had a 13-point drop between his second and third quarters in office in 1945 and 1946.
Gallup notes some of the factors that could have contributed to this: the battle over health care reform, the tempestuous political summer with the fiery town halls discussion (or screaming about) health care reform. And the biggie: the high unemployment figures.
More generally, Obama’s 9-point slide between quarters ranks as one of the steepest for a president at any point in his first year in office. The highest is Truman’s 19-point drop between his third and fourth quarters, followed by a 15-point drop for Gerald Ford between his first and second quarters. The largest for an elected president in his first year is Bill Clinton’s 11-point slide between his first and second quarters.
But if you look at recent polls in general, a bigger part of what seems to be going on is that a greatly downsized Republican party is now slowly regaining some of its straying supporters. However, the GOP has been unable to expand its party at a time when Obama is losing some of his own election 2008 winning coalition. All the talk about Obama being a “post-partisan” President now seems instantly outdated and rather quaint in this new era of megatoxic partisanship.
The key question will become: whether Obama can retain or win back parts of his straying 2008 winning coalition and whether the GOP can win back some of the people that once supported it. The bottom line right now seems to be that Obama and the Democrats are more involved in outreach than the GOP which seems to be continuing to be a party talking in a language and tone that its base may love but is a turn off to independent voters, many centrist Democrats, and moderate Republicans — even if they are not as enamored of Obama the 2009 President, versus Obama the 2008 Perception.
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.