Do you think Obama's doing a good job?
August 22nd, 2013
11:03 AM ET
12 months ago

Do you think Obama's doing a good job?

Washington (CNN) - As President Barack Obama hit the road Thursday and Friday for a campaign-esque bus tour, the Republican National Committee fired off an email to reporters titled "Lame Speech, Lame Duck."

While it's the RNC's job, as the party committee of the party not controlling the White House, to criticize the president, it's true that Obama's poll numbers are nothing to brag about. But it's also a fact that the president's standing in public opinion still soars above that of Congress and the Republican Party.

President Barack Obama sits down with “New Day” Anchor Chris Cuomo to discuss his plans to lower college costs, as well as the major international and domestic stories affecting American security and life.

The best measure of a president, and his clout, is his approval rating in public opinion polls.

Americans are split on the job Obama's doing according to the latest daily tracking poll conducted by Gallup, with 46% of the public saying they approve of the president's performance and an equal amount giving him a thumbs down. The survey was conducted August 18-20.

The president stands at 47%-49% approval/disapproval in an American Research Group survey conducted August 17-20.

President Obama approval rating's been in the mid-40's to upper-40's in most national polling since March. His numbers were slightly higher (upper 40's to low 50's) at the very end of last year and at the beginning of this year, most likely due to his re-election victory and to his second inauguration.

"A president's approval rating often is determined by economic conditions, and most Americans still give the economy a negative rating," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

But compared to Congress, the president's approval appears lofty. Just 14% of the public gave federal lawmakers a thumbs up on the job they're doing, according to a Gallup poll conducted earlier this month, with just over eight in ten saying they disapprove. The 14% approval is near all-time lows for Congress.

And the favorable rating for the Republican party stood between 35% and 40% in Gallup, Pew Research Center, and CNN/ORC International surveys conducted in late May and June. By comparison, the favorable rating for the Democratic Party ranged from 46% to 52% in those same three polls.

During his two-day bus tour through parts of New York and Pennsylvania, the president is expected to highlight proposals aimed at curbing the rising costs higher education. In a statement provided to CNN on Thursday morning, the White House outlined some details of the proposed changes, which include tying "financial aid to college value" based on a new ranking system to be carried out by the Department of Education.

Americans appear divided on the job Obama's doing when it comes to education. Forty-nine percent of those questioned in the Gallup poll from earlier in August said they approved of his performance on the issue of education, with 45% saying they disapprove. The numbers were little changed over the past year.

On the broader issue of the economy, that same survey indicated that only 35% approved of the president's performance, down seven points from June. A Quinnipiac University poll conducted in late July put Obama's approval rating on the economy at 42%.

The Gallup poll also suggests a drop in approval among one of the president's biggest group of supporters, younger Americans. While 53% of those aged 18-29 still approve of the job Obama's doing in the White House, the approval among younger Americans is down seven points since May.

So how does Obama stack up with previous presidents in the late summer of the first year of their second terms?

"Most two-term presidents in the 20th century had good approval ratings in the August following their second inauguration. The exception was Richard Nixon, who was mired in Watergate and a poor economy. Dwight Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton all had approval ratings in the 60s eight months into their second terms, as did Lyndon Johnson in August of 1965," adds Holland. "But George W. Bush's approval rating was only 45% in August of 2005 - and that was before Hurricane Katrina drove his ratings even lower by mid-September."

soundoff (31 Responses)
  1. Malory Archer

    While I'm not thrilled with all of the President's choices and believe things could be better, IMO he's doing quite well. That, despite the right's voting against their own bills after the President comes out in support. And their never-ending attempts to create so-called "scandals" in an effort to make him look bad. Granted, the NSA thing looks bad, but considering it's been going on for decades, those who are furious about it should be thanking God for President Obama because prior to his election, anyone who even raised an eyebrow at the very things that are going on now, was accused of treason, not supporting the troops, providing comfort to the enemy and a whole host of other sound bites created by the apologists for the perpetrators. In fact one guy even suggested that "libruls" who voice disapproval should be harmed and even killed to make us afraid.

    August 22, 2013 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  2. Rudy NYC

    Since saving the global economy, I think he's doing a fantastic job of making many Republicans show their true colors. They've shown themselves to be willing to be scrutinized by their own thought police. They're willing to be led charisma and misinformation. They've shown an appalling selfishness to put their own interests ahead of the nation's. They're willing to use a scorched earth policy to have their own way. They've show that they know their days are numbered.

    August 22, 2013 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  3. Lynda/Minnesota

    @ Fair is Fair: "Beg to differ with you, Lynda. I'd be willing to wager that the 29% who blame Obama re: Katrina are doing so out of sheer ignorance of the world around them. I'd also wager that if the same poll were taken, you'd wind up with 29% who believe that George Bush "steered" Katrina into NOLA using the Haliburton Hurricane Machine. The stupidity in this country is mind boggling and getting worse. Hate to be a Debbie Downer, but we're doomed."

    It wasn't my intention to assume we as a nation haven't been dumbed down. The evidence (on this thread for example) is overwhelming proof. I was suggesting that wording within a poll can be misleading to fit a certain narrative. And while you did make me laugh with your examples (which were spot on BTW) I won't yet add Debbie Downer to my list of my own pessimistic attributes.

    I'm still holding my glass as half full.

    August 22, 2013 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  4. Wake up People!

    Not one other President has faced what this one has. Many, many people hate him for nothing more than the color of his skin. They started before he was elected and ramped it up within 2 weeks of his inauguration. Half of Congress is so jealous and hateful they do any and everything to stop any progress he attempts to make. I could go on and on but I have work to do. The republicans in Congress are the biggest traitors this country ever saw. Payback is a mofo. I hope the dems do the exact same thing to you when you manage to steal the election next time. Remember Dubya and Jeb?

    August 22, 2013 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  5. jason

    Im not a master politician but if the president constructs a jobs bill and the republicans vote no on it is the president or congress at fault?

    August 22, 2013 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  6. ST

    The President can't do an extremely pretty job if he doesn't get support from the other government branches which are supposed to work hand in hand with him. From my point of view, I think it is not fair to blame the President that the economy is not doing well OR where are the jobs? I have seen most of the time polls are taken about the President and very few or none taken about the congress performance. Am quite sure if the media could had been reporting congress polls as they do to President polls, things could had been changed a lot. Please media, can you also perform your job properly?

    August 22, 2013 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  7. Gunderson

    What!, Ask Spouses of UPS, University of Virginia and Nevada Labor Unions. If repeating the Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire is his Goal, yes he do bang up job.

    August 22, 2013 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  8. ghostwriter

    If anything, the NSA "scandal" is hurting him. The other scandals have pretty much been deemed stupid. This one may stick, though not so much as a scandal as an issue that should be dealt with.

    Of course, it's always interesting to note how congressional republicans have a 10 point deficit compared to their counterparts. And with congress overall sitting in the teens, it's a wonder that any of them have the gall to be seen in the light of day.

    August 22, 2013 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  9. California Gary

    Considering the full blown and irrational opposition to everything he tries to accomplish by the GOP, I think he's done as well as anyone could expect. I wonder where we would be right now if the GOP had put party politics aside and cooperated with him to get some things done for the good of the country?

    August 22, 2013 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  10. Gurgy

    He is doing the Best Job. Yes. This gigantic Economy is collapsed by GOP war mongrels. They poured money in Iraq, Afganistan, 25 billion dollars yearly in Pakistan nonetheless Bin Laden in Pakistan. Stock Market is a Live-Proof he is doing the best job.

    August 22, 2013 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  11. Woman In California

    In one word: YES.

    August 22, 2013 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  12. Fair is Fair

    No, not really.

    August 22, 2013 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  13. Rick McDaniel

    Surely you JEST!

    Obama is a dismal excuse for a President.

    August 22, 2013 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  14. Lynda/Minnesota

    Add me to the "yes" column.

    August 22, 2013 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  15. Maria Rivera-Carvalho

    I think he is doing a great job and give him extra points for keeping his cool and acting with such class in the face of the Teapublican insanity.

    August 22, 2013 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  16. Mikey

    Given what he's been up against, he's doing a fantastic job. Sure you can criticize individual decisions and events. He's not perfect. However, the accomplishments keep piling up; ending Iraq war, has avoided new wars as much as possible, getting Bin Laden plus dozens of other high level al-Qaeda operatives, ended use of torture, cut annual budget deficit by more than half in four years, 40 consecutive months of private sector job growth after inheriting a 750,000 per month job loss rate, stock market doubled, unemployment would be under 6% if not for reductions in government employment, housing market recovery, doubling renewable energy production, closer to energy independence than we have been in over 40 years, passage of health care reform when no president going back to Teddy Roosevelt was able, ended don't ask don't tell, great strides in marriage equality, movement toward immigration reform, financial industry reform, established Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Lilly Ledbetter fair pay act, and many other smaller changes that will benefit us (plus others I am not remembering at this moment).

    He inherited the worst economy in over 70 years, two wars, massive budget deficits, and the most obstructionist opposition party in our lifetimes. It seems that the GOP would happily run the country into the ground as long as they could blame it on the President. It’s a sad state of affairs in our politics, which I am sure will be exemplified by many of the comments that will be made on this forum.

    August 22, 2013 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  17. jinx9to88

    People need to take in consideration that Obama ability to get stuff done is completely related to Congress and with Congress approval rating at 10% it will effect Obama job approval.

    August 22, 2013 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  18. Tea Party Thomas

    No. Obama care is coming and this country is in deep do-do. Congress needs to do the following

    1. Defund Obama care.
    2. Impeach Obama and Biden.
    3. Call for early elections and elect a true Conservative like Rand Paul.

    August 22, 2013 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  19. coyote1hell

    Most people that aren't addicted to his handouts, wish he was still a lousy senator in Ill....that's all...

    August 22, 2013 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  20. jeri lynn williams

    Does anyone know how many of the congressmen that hate our President more than they love American citizens played football? :)

    August 22, 2013 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  21. Rudy NYC

    Tea Party Thomas

    No. Obama care is coming and this country is in deep do-do. Congress needs to do the following

    1. Defund Obama care.
    2. Impeach Obama and Biden.
    3. Call for early elections and elect a true Conservative like Rand Paul.
    ------------------–
    Sorry, to break the bad news. The Old South is dead,.... a civilization gone with the wind.

    August 22, 2013 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  22. DG

    Patiently waiting out the next 3 years, they can't go fast enough for me!

    August 22, 2013 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  23. WIMPY38

    Hell yeah! he's doing a good job. Look where we were 5-7 years ago economically. I really galls me that people think we should hop in one war into another without even blinking or didn't you know that Truman and Roosevelt WERE ALWAYs monitoring America through survaillence and Americans said it was for the good of the people.

    August 22, 2013 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  24. Joi Gibson

    I think President Obama is doing a wonderful job. After everything that he has had to put up with – especially a dysfunctional congress on steroids – what he has accomplished is monumental. How much farther along this country would be if Congress acted in the best interests of the country instead of their best interests. And why is it always the president. How come the so-called librul media does not take on Congress the way they do the President. After all, it was the fault of Congress that our credit rating was lowered and these clowns in the House are about to go that route again. I trust the President especially because, whether you agree with his decisions or not, at least his decisions are made after a great deal of thought and debate. That is how it should be. Way to go Mr. President!!

    August 22, 2013 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  25. Fair is Fair

    The economy is the number one issue for the vast majority of Americans. Recent polling shows him with a 35% approval rating on the economy. But it's not his fault... right?

    August 22, 2013 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
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