CNN Poll: How Obama stacks up against predecessors
December 20th, 2010
03:13 PM ET
12 years ago

CNN Poll: How Obama stacks up against predecessors

Washington (CNN) - As President Barack Obama ends his second year in office, a new national poll indicates that just under half of all Americans approve of the job he's doing in the White House, lower than most of his recent predecessors at the same time in their first term in office.

According to a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Monday, the public is split on how Obama has handled his duties, with 48 percent saying they approve and an equal amount saying they disapprove.

View the Full results (pdf)

President George W. Bush had an approval rating of 63 percent in December of 2002 - the end of his second year in office - as did his father, President George H.W. Bush, in 1990. The elder Bush lost his re-election bid two years later while his son was successfully re-elected in 2004 to a second term.

President Bill Clinton, whose party lost control of both houses of Congress in the first midterm election of his presidency, stood at 54 percent at the end of his second year in office at the end of 1994. Clinton went on to win re-election two years later.

Ronald Reagan, whose party also suffered major losses in his first midterm, had an approval rating of just 41 percent at the end of 1982, two years into his first term. Reagan rebounded to win a landslide re-election in 1984.

"An approval rating is a pretty unreliable indicator of the president's chances of getting re-elected, at least this far out from the next election," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "In Obama's case, for example, a significant number of Americans disapprove of his track record because he has not been liberal enough. Those people may stay at home on election day in 2012, but they're probably not going to vote for a Republican. So the 48 percent who disapprove of Obama does not mean that 48 percent will vote against him two years from now."

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted December 17-19, with 1,008 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.

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

Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @PsteinhauserCNN

Filed under: CNN Polls • Polls • President Obama
soundoff (31 Responses)
  1. normajean

    What happened to my previous comment? Did I accidentally hit a "TRUTH" nerve and you couldn't quite handle it? Considering the mess inherited and the intent on the Repub side to :get: him, I think the president has a pretty good list of accomplishments.There isn't any one in the current picture who could do any better. ..What';s with you guys anyway? I don't call people names,I'm fairly respectful and I tell the truth,I don't make up a bunch of lies. Why don't you dump the guys that call our president nasty names or make up their own "facts"?

    December 20, 2010 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  2. kakaraka

    Those presidents didn't have these huge problems Obama have and inhiritated. You need to compare Aple to Aple and not Aple to Orange. Considering the severities of the crisis he's resolving, he is doing an excellent job. Wake up people with intelligent analysis and not follow tea baggers and republicans who created the mess in the first place.

    December 20, 2010 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  3. Expat American

    Orlando Patriot – One small note. Republicans don't care about the poor and the uneducated...even if they are white. You sound like you are all three.

    Why does the name 'Hussein' frighten you so? Is it because you don't have a passport and have never left Orlando?

    You sound like quite a Lee Greenwood listenin' Patriot.

    December 20, 2010 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  4. rr

    It is amazing to watch critics of the prez wrap their internal self anger around a ten second blog. They project their own inadequacies upon him because of their own personal failures. They make up half- truths, do not check facts, and re spew what the latest media conspiracy theory is............... so much anger......

    December 20, 2010 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  5. Monster Zero

    News flash – Alan Greenspan was a Clintonian fixture in the Federal Reserve and pushed deregulation heavily within the banking industry specifically in the home mortgage and credit card related areas. With Greenspan's mortgage derivatives scheme initial collapse (Carol Browning), and Clinton's bastardization of NAFTA and China Trade agreements it was all setting the stage for what Obama got handed. They are the results of the front end loaded deals from Mr. balance the budget kicking and screaming Clinton, but go ahead, blame it on Bush. President Obama's newest book should be titled, "How to turn a Recession into a Global Depression for Dummies".

    December 20, 2010 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  6. ThinkAgain

    Four and the Door: Axelrod was a magician and a bunch of voters got tricked.

    What?!? That doesn't make sense, even for you with your hateful Fox talking points posts.

    The trickery was GW Bush lying us into a war, cutting taxes on the wealthy and telling us that "deficits don't matter" (actual quote by Cheney – look it up). But folks like you are too full of pride to admit YOU'RE the ones who supported Bush and helped create this mess!

    December 20, 2010 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
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