Second-term polls: How do Obama and Clinton compare?
May 20th, 2013
11:21 AM ET
10 years ago

Second-term polls: How do Obama and Clinton compare?

(CNN) - A second term Democratic president, battling back against series of controversies.

Sound familiar?

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President Barack Obama is facing a political situation not altogether unlike what the last Democrat in the White House, Bill Clinton, experienced during his second term.

For Obama it's the controversies over the Internal Revenue service's targeting of tea party and other conservative groups who applied for tax exempt status, the administration's handling and reaction to last September's attack in Benghazi that left the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans dead, and the Justice Department's secret collection of phone records from the Associated Press as part of a government investigation into classified leaks.

According to a new national poll, even though a majority of Americans take all three matters very seriously, Obama appears to have come out of what was arguably the worst week of his presidency with his approval rating holding steady.

According to the CNN/ORC International survey, which was conducted Friday and Saturday, 53% of Americans say they approve of the job the president is doing, with 45% saying they disapprove. The president's approval rating was at 51% in CNN's last poll, which was conducted in early April. The two point rise is well within the survey's sampling error.

Now flash back to 1998 when President Clinton–following 1997's campaign finance controversy of improper fundraising and Chinese contributions–was dealing with an emerging scandal over a sexual relationship he had in his first term with a 22-year old White House intern named Monica Lewinsky.

When the scandal first broke, at the beginning of 1998, Clinton's approval rating in a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll stood at 59%.

"With regard to Clinton's approval rating, the key moment was his State of the Union speech in January, 1998, shortly after the Lewinsky scandal broke. His approval rating jumped ten points, to 69%, after that speech, and it stayed above 60% throughout his impeachment," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

"That speech presented Clinton as on the job and ready to solve the country's problems, and congressional Republicans looked bad by contrast. Add to Clinton's high approval ratings the fact that the GOP lost five House seats in the 1998 midterm elections, and it seems clear in retrospect that politically played their hand."

After House Republicans impeached the president in December 1998, Clinton's approval rating soared to 73% and stood at 68% two months later, when the Senate acquitted him.

Clinton finished out his second term and left office in January 2001 with a 66% approval rating in CNN/Gallup/USA Today polling.

- CNN's Tim McCaughan contributed to this report.

soundoff (303 Responses)
  1. skytag

    @The REAL Truth...: "But it is disheartning to be in line at Kroger and watch food stamps being handed for payment and then groceries loaded in a new Mercedes. But this is age old issue that this country must address. It is time for some folks to become accountable for themselves again."

    I would love for us to have a national conversation about welfare reform in which we rationally identify the problems and propose solutions, but 99.9% of the time all anyone wants to do is whine about poor people and welfare abuse. The former could be used to address the problem; the latter is a complete waste of time that only incites animosity toward poor people.

    May 20, 2013 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  2. The REAL Truth...

    @Realconservative –
    What a joke! Do you blind libs really believe these numbers?
    Let me see!
    Guns to Mexico with a US border guard as a sacrifice.
    Benghazi cover-up
    IRS harassment of conservative groups.
    AP wiretaps.
    Troops sent into Libya with no congressional approval.
    It goes on and on.
    Yawn.. this is so-o-o 28 seconds ago. Let me clarify your uninformed rant with some FACTS:

    1. Fast and Furious was the continuation of Project Gunrunner, initiated under Bush that did EXACTLY the same thing. The only difference was the death. And, in case it escaped you... Holder was the one who ordered the investigation.

    2. There was NO cover up for Benghazi. There was badly announced misinformation, doctored (initially) by the Republican-led CIA, then changed by certain other Republican "aides" up the chain. I'm fairly sure that Rice doesn't watch Fox news, so her talking points were valid (to her) at the time thwy were received. Issa refuses to let the investigatin commission testify in public. Why is that ??

    3. It is the IRS' job sto ensure that any group (conservative or not) that applies for 501(c)3 tax-exempt status is not actively involved in politics. given the any group with "Tea" or "patriot" in it's name is morely likely trying to hide its donor list than gain tax-exemption, I'd say the oversight was warranted. Let's not forget that the report was released ONE YEAR ago, under the then IRS head (G. Shulman) – a Republican appointed by Bush. Do ya think he might have reported this to the GOP had HE known about it.

    4. AP wiretaps were legally approved by Congress (including Republicans) and signed off by a Republican judge. Capish?

    5. There were no troops sent into Libya to depose Qadaffi. The 12,000 troops sent there from Malta were part of the NATO/U.N. mandate to keep the Libyan people safe, and does not require Congressional approval.

    Yes, it goes on and on. The Republican attempts to capitalize on the woes they have manufactured for Obama are pathetic.

    May 20, 2013 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  3. Nameliberalrag

    Rand Paul!!!!!!!!!!!!

    May 20, 2013 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
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