January 20th, 2010
07:15 AM ET
5 years ago

Obama approval at 51 percent at one year mark

A poll of polls shows Obama's approval rating stands at 51 percent.
A poll of polls shows Obama's approval rating stands at 51 percent.

Washington (CNN) – As Barack Obama marks one year in the White House, an average of the most recent national surveys indicates that just over half of the public approves of how president is handling his job.

According to a new CNN Poll of Polls, 51 percent of Americans give Obama a thumbs up when it comes to his performance as president, with 42 percent saying they disapprove of the job he's doing. The survey's Wednesday morning release comes on the one year anniversary of Obama's inauguration as President of the United States.

"Obama's average approval rating stayed above 60 percent until mid-June, and was at 55 percent as late as October," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "But since November, his weekly approval rating, on average, has hovered around the 50 percent mark."

This most recent CNN Poll of Polls is an average of four national surveys conducted in the past week: Fox News (January 12-13), ABC/Washington Post (January 12-15), CBS (January 14-15) and the Gallup Tracking poll (January 15-17). The Poll of Polls does not have a sampling error.

So how does this president rank compared to his most recent predecessors? George W. Bush's approval rating stood at 83 percent in January 2002, just four months after the September 11 terrorist attacks. Bill Clinton held a 54 percent approval rating in January 1994. George H.W. Bush stood at 80 percent in January 1990 and 49 percent of the public approved of the job Ronald Reagan was doing in January 1982.

"The historical comparison reminds us that a president's first-year approval ratings have little predictive value when forecasting the next election," Holland said. "The elder George Bush had a great first year in office but lost his re-election bid. Ronald Reagan dropped under the 50 percent mark in the fall of his first year and stayed there for nearly two years, yet went on to a landslide victory when he ran again."

– CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.


Filed under: Polls • President Obama
soundoff (64 Responses)
  1. Desmond in Canada

    US citizens need to recognize what an excellent President they have and SUPPORT HIM in putting their country on the right course, nationally and internationally, instead of outdoing themselves in stupidity and pettiness.

    January 20, 2010 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  2. Deborah C

    Image that. 59% of Americans surveyed rated him with a "F" for overall performance just 3 days ago and now 51% approve? It is obvious that Massachusetts does not support Obama. They did not vote for him in the primaries despite being endorsed by the two Dem senators. Maybe we should change the ballot layouts for presidential elections. I suggest we have two columns. The first column being the name of the candidate and the second column would contain the pictures of the candidate in random order. The vote would only count if the correct name was matched to the correct picture. Maybe then we would stop going from bad to worse. Why, why, why when we had an inexperienced poorly-motivated individual with a poor track record elected in 1990, did we go ahead and elect a second one??? Especially when it was clear that his inexperience was what got us into this mess.

    January 20, 2010 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  3. Bedtime for Obonzo

    That's a bit higher than I expected.

    WE WON.

    January 20, 2010 08:46 am at 8:46 am |
  4. spoken

    About a minus 10 in my area

    January 20, 2010 08:47 am at 8:47 am |
  5. Dan

    Yes about 66% for the president's smile, personality, and for being a nice guy who is good at talking, but probably at most 35% when it comes to his policies, so on the average it comes to the claimed 51%

    When we vote we put a larger weight on policies of people who are in office, though (as we realized last night in MA).

    January 20, 2010 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  6. Linda from Minnesota

    Think of all the things he deals with on a daily basis. He's doing a good job, give him time.

    January 20, 2010 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  7. Ken

    I would never believe the results of any poll pertaining to obama taken by cnn. His approval is well below 50%. The election of Brown is proof of that.

    January 20, 2010 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  8. TRUTH

    DEMS are best for USA , and OBAMA is doing a good job taking over after the mess bush made, but mr brown & the gop shold thank oprah & ted kennedy for not keeping quiet, the DEM in mass would've won by a landslide if HILARY was in

    January 20, 2010 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  9. Fred

    It seems an oxymoron to say 51% approve of his performance as president but 42% disapprove of the job he is doing. Is his job not to be president? What am I missing?

    January 20, 2010 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  10. WoW

    "I believe that our Constitution and laws exist to protect this nation – they do not grant rights and privileges to enemies in wartime. In dealing with terrorists, our tax dollars should pay for weapons to stop them, not lawyers to defend them." – Scott Brown

    I am a NJ resident and wish NJ had a republican senator like him. We voted in a Republican govenor already and are starting to turn the tide. I agree 100% with what Scott Brown stated and for the sake of our national security, so should all Americans.

    January 20, 2010 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  11. Ken, Centreville, VA

    Given the economic smoking crater this President inherited, along with some seriously questionable leadership in the Congress, a 51% approval rating is kind of remarkable. Rather than analyze the dip in the polls in strictly political terms, it is, factually speaking, an indication there is much to build on after 12 months.

    Of course, he needs help from his party, which, instead of leading, is taking on a bunker mentality.

    January 20, 2010 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  12. Tired

    The President has had to confront constant blasts from the GOP. Distortion and downright lies have been thrust at him on every topic. Do I agree with everything the President has done? No, of course not. But saying no just for the sake of being obstructive and rejoicing in it sounds to me like kids in junior high. I feel for the man. He wants to do good for the people and gets knocked down by those who just want to prove they can do it and get away with it. I believe that back in the 90's Gingrich was asked why he was going forward with Clinton's impeachment trial when he knew he could not win. He reply was "because I can". Seems to me the constant negativity today has the same basis.

    January 20, 2010 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  13. Blutarski

    How ironic, that is the exact percentage of voters who rejected his policies and agenda by voting Scott Brown to the Senate in Democrat Liberal Massachusetts-even after he personally appeared and begged voters to chose his candidate Martha Chokely.

    January 20, 2010 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  14. TOTUS 4 PRESIDENT

    A clearly biased poll – most have him below 50%. Let's see the Rasmussen poll in about a week!

    January 20, 2010 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
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