About That Obama Second-Term Popularity Collapse

Remember when it was inevitable that Barack Obama’s approval ratings were converging with those of George W. Bush’s second term as voters permanently lost confidence in him and tuned him out? Well, the 44th president’s three-day job approval average at Gallup just turned positive (48/47) at a point in his presidency where W.’s was at 34% and about to plunge into the high 20s.

While we are staring at Obama’s numbers, it’s worth taking a look at some of the internals, particularly as they bear witness to the accuracy of some of the more common “narratives” about Obama. In the last weekly Gallup summary (in which the president’s overall ratio was still underwater at 46/49), the national approval ratio was being pulled down by a remarkable single-digit (8%) approval rating from self-identified Republicans. But among Democrats, who are supposedly on the brink of a “struggle for the soul of the party,” and ideologically riven between Elizabeth Warren “populists” and Obama/Clinton “centrists,” Obama’s approval rating stands at 81%. And looking deeper, he’s at 86% among self-identified “liberal Democrats,” 78% among “moderate Democrats,” and yes, 67% among “conservative Democrats,” such as they are. Among self-identified indies (who lean Republican these days), Obama is at a sluggish but not disastrous 44%; at this point in W.’s presidency he had dropped to 28% among indies, and was at a relatively unimpressive 70% among Republicans, who had been toasting him as a world-historical figure just a few years earlier.

This is another example of isolated data being somewhat limited in value, but worth a couple of dozen Politico columns.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.