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Obama’s Approval Ratings Benefit From Good Economy But Have Low Ceiling

Politics Tribune News Service

Obama’s Approval Ratings Benefit From Good Economy But Have Low Ceiling


By David Lauter, Tribune Washington Bureau (TNS)

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama’s standing with the public likely will continue its recent upward trend following the latest positive economic news, but new data on the country’s polarized politics suggests he will soon bump up against a low ceiling.

The labor market data released by the federal government Friday showed the best three months of job growth since the mid-1990s, an increase in the percentage of Americans who are working and the first signs of wage growth.

That’s the kind of good news that usually sends presidential approval ratings upward.

But political polarization exerts a powerful pull in the other direction: Much like President George W. Bush before him, Obama faces near unanimous disapproval from opposing partisans that is deeply dug in and unlikely to change.

Gallup’s latest analysis of a year’s worth of polling data illustrates the depth of the polarization.

Across his sixth year as president, Obama averaged 79 percent approval from fellow Democrats but only 9 percent from Republicans. In the history of Gallup’s survey, that 70-point partisan gap is unrivaled, except for Bush, whose ratings in year six were identical to Obama’s but with the party labels switched.

Critics of both presidents decried their failure to unify the country, but the fact that two such different politicians could have identical degrees of polarization strongly suggests that the times, not the men, are to blame.

In the past half century, the only years that showed more polarization than Obama’s sixth year were his — and Bush’s — fourth and fifth years.

All of that suggests that Obama’s overall approval rating probably will not rise much above 50 percent for any sustained period. The 64 percent approval that President Bill Clinton averaged in his sixth year, for example, is out of reach for Obama unless some completely unforeseen development causes Republicans to change their view of him.

A sharply polarized electorate is not the worst thing that can happen to a president, however.

The partisan gap for Bush narrowed in the last two years of his tenure. That wasn’t because Democrats began to approve his performance more but because Republicans approved it less.

Obama, by contrast, has been able to keep his party largely united behind him despite perennial tensions between the White House and congressional Democrats.

With strong economic growth, executive actions on immigration and climate change, and policy proposals in his State of the Union speech that address Democratic priorities on a host of other issues, the unity on his side of the aisle likely will continue to grow.

Photo: U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during a meeting with a group of young undocumented immigrants in the Oval Office of the White House on Feb. 4, 2015 in Washington, D.C. The five immigrants, known as “dreamers,” who meet with the president have received protections from deportation under a program Obama implemented in 2012. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)



  1. Frank KIng February 6, 2015

    Trying to recover from the mess the last right wing bunch visited upon the nation at home and abroad has been a daunting task. The President deserves more than this nation is willing to give him for accomplishing success for his energy, work and concern for the average American in attempting to rectify the disastrous foreign policy and economic-fiscal-financial chaos that he and the rest of us inherited from the malfeasance/misfeasance and mismanagement created by the right wing the last time they had total control of the government and our lives. However, with the remnants of that incompetent bunch now again in total control, the gains will disappear and another right wing mess lies ahead. Beware the “Ides of March”.

    1. angelsinca February 6, 2015

      Touting the ‘gains’ that have created a divided nation on racial/gender/religous/political/economic fronts is like breathing a sigh of relief that the divorce is final. But the family remains broken.

      1. Frank KIng February 7, 2015

        It appears the devil is more involved in your response than any angel. The economic decline of America began with the Dolt, Reagan, with his trickle down,voodoo economics that was laughed at by his vice president and his economic advisors and staff. Some went to the wood shed. He was also instrumental in declaring war on air-traffic controllers, teachers, farmers and the mentally ill. His economic policies came to fruition under Bush/Cheney/Coulson who begged congress for bailouts and stimulus packages during the second term of Bush’s administration to avoid a deep recession or worse–we got the “worse’. If you have been paying attention to reality instead of your angels, the social problems and divisiveness is a result of right wing attempts to control every facet of American life-social-political-fiscal-financial that is a threat to indivdual freedom and the nation.–just ask the gays, women and their rights, voters and their rights, Yes, the “family” is broken but you could get some credibility by admitting that the right wing has responsibility and accountability for creating most of our current misery at home and abroad.

        1. angelsinca February 7, 2015

          Have you been to the doctor lately, Frank? For the sake of a reality check, please make an appointment with your favorite doctor. Can’t do that? Just make an appointment with any podiatrist down the street. Tell them your feet hurt so bad you can’t walk.

          When you see her two months later, and show your proof of the state-mandated health insurance, she will x-ray your feet. After she has an assistant tape your feet, then sells you $65 shoe inserts, be sure to schedule two follow up visits.

          When you get the bill for $768, you find out the health insurance would have paid, but you still have to pay for another $4232 this year before your Obamacare kicks in, thanks to the Democratic defining legislative achievement.

          So please do continue on insisting that the GOP is responsible for all the current miseries. It acknowledges the continuing deception and trickery plaguing the nation from the left.

          1. Frank KIng February 7, 2015

            You certainly went through a lot of foot work to cloud one’s mind on the economics of health care. Thankfully my feet are no problem and I can avoid the terror of which you display. Anyway, America was reeling from the effects of private health care–pre exiting conditions, denial of care in many instances and premiums rising to galactic levels,etc. etc., so that only the wealthy were totally covered. No deception or trickery involved about detailing the right wing’s malfeasance/misfeasance, incompetence and mismanagement every time they control the government and our lives that another administration has to confront to ameliorate the deplorable results. Hail to the Chief!

          2. angelsinca February 8, 2015

            “, so that only the wealthy were totally covered. ”

            Thanks for the reply Frank. I was totally covered before the ACA and I’m not wealthy. Our household income was close to the median level for 2010-2013. To keep our plans, we were looking at a doubling of our premiums and a tenfold increase in our deductibles, thanks to the ACA. To keep what we had, we would indeed have to be wealthy now, or at least have access to another $9800 each year.

            Since we don’t have that kind of money, I had to get my healthcare through the VA, while the spouse continues hers through her employer. We cannot afford healthcare for her anymore. The premiums for her alone are what they were for both of us before the ACA, but the deductibles are now impossible to meet, thanks to the ACA. We have to now pay the coverage of our 24 yr old, who has been out of the house for 6 years now, because of the ACA

            None of our other expenses went down since the ACA took affect, be we are expected to pay our ‘fair share’. I drive a ten yer old car. Hers is a lease that costs too much already. They said the car insurance would be more affordable when it became mandatory. That never happened. When they said health care would be more affordable because of the ACA, I didn’t believe them.

            The mammograms are free but just one single unexpected out-patient procedure for the spouse will put us on the same boat as others that have to choose between buying food or paying for health care, thanks to the ACA. It wasn’t like this before the ACA. It is now. The is not a republican-approved offering. This is a Democratic mandate, fully enforced by the IRS. If we don’t pay, our wages get attached. Thanks to whoever for that little gotcha’.

            If the chief you are hailing is the same bumbling community organizer that promised an extra $2500 in our pocket because of the ACA, I’m am deeply sorry for the misguided allegiance. They used to cry Hail to the Furher! But that’s a different but closely related topic for another day. Thanks again for the reply.

      2. James Bowen February 7, 2015

        angelsinca, good to see you on here again.

        1. angelsinca February 7, 2015

          Thank you James. I didn’t go anywhere. I’ve been observing the silliness by the left. But, I can only handle the hateful stereotyping in short doses. It’s unhealthy. They seem to think all white male christian conservative heterosexual republicans are evil and plotting to destroy their world. Please don’t tell them we have our sights on the universe.

          1. James Bowen February 7, 2015

            I think the left has become so obsessed with racism that they are being perceived by many moderates to be anti-middle America and anti-middle class and even dismissive of the working class. They seemed stunned that working class whites turned against them in the last election, yet they persist in doing things, such as advocating for illegal aliens, that turn working class people off.

            By the way, what happened to that one guy? He practically stalked me for six months, but all of a sudden I stopped hearing from him or seeing his posts on here.

          2. angelsinca February 7, 2015

            Last I heard, that ‘one guy’ was recruited to campaign for a Democrat back east. That was before the wipe out in November. Maybe the creep finally ended the misery he regularly inflicted on others by pulling the trigger on himself. This may explain the freedom others now have to express themselves here and other anti-conservative blogs without fear of credible threats and eye-bugging, vein-popping crazy monologues. Russell Byrd is not missed.

          3. James Bowen February 7, 2015

            Well, if that’s the type of people Democrats had doing their campaigns, it’s no wonder why they were beaten so badly!

            Seriously though, I wonder if this site finally blocked him. They recently blocked someone else who was a consistent harasser but not even a hundredth as bad as the “one guy”.

  2. Lo Gitech February 7, 2015

    The myth of Obama is little more than an ever-shifting mirage of illusions conjured up to exploit the sympathies of the gullible and the ignorant.

  3. pm1 February 8, 2015

    Conclusion: Republicans approve when Americans are being killed in a senseless war of choice and disapprove when Americans have the choice to buy affordable health-care insurance. That seems wrong. Sick, really.

  4. charleo1 February 8, 2015

    Well, absolutely. We as a Nation are very divided. It’s not uncommon in troubling times such as these. In insecure times for many, many Americans. If only we had the ability to somehow travel vicariously down that path not taken. Perhaps in the future, there will be a computer that can extrapolate out for us that other path. And we can compare the wisdom of the choices we actually made, to the decisions we might have, and that will unite us? What if we could see with a high degree of confidence what might have happened if John McCain, and Sarah Palin would have won the Presidency in 2008? Would there be a T-Party today? We can know for certain, they would have faced the same daunting problems. A financial sector torn asunder, an economy on the verge of collapse, thirty-six out of our fifty States had budgets on the brink of insolvency. Their real estate revenue streams obliterated by the housing debacle. And let’s give President McCain a strong majority in Congress. Would A GOP Congress have only bailed out the banks, and forgone a stimulus package in favor of say, making the Bush tax cuts permanent, lowering corporate taxes, and doubling down on capital gains. Would those measures have stemmed the tide of jobs rushing out of the Country to find lower labor costs? Would investors, because of lower taxes, flooded in with private monies, lifting up a sagging economy, and putting millions back to work? Or, would they, as most economists believe, had to pass some form of stimulus, to at least to keep the State Gov. open. And would that have sufficed? Would the Right have still contended their package in the end created no jobs? Would the Democrats have said such a thing? Would President McCain have decided to save GM? Would Congress have decided that Wall Street was just fine regulation wise? That this hiccup was only a one off. And, more regulation would just make things worse? If so, would Americans now hold them accountable, if the same thing were to happen again? We almost certainly would not have had healthcare reform. So, would our premiums be lower, higher, or about the same? But who among us would believe such a thing, if it were ever possible? The ones the computer validated is the answer. The problem is, we don’t allow ourselves a final arbiter in almost anything today. And the course our Nation takes, has no do overs. No slow motion replays, where decisions may be overturned, or proven correct, or too close to call, and we’re elated, or disappointed, but
    content in the certainty of knowing the truth. And so the truth then becomes a very personal, very partisan thing indeed. Something like President Bush
    answered when ask what he thought his legacy as President would be? He said, I really don’t care, I’ll be dead. And so may we all be, before the final verdict comes in on President Obama. If it ever does.


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