Obama Poll Watch -- March, 2010

[ Posted Friday, April 2nd, 2010 – 16:56 UTC ]

Some of you may be wondering at this moment: "Hey, Chris, where's the Friday Talking Points?" Since Congress is off on vacation this week, and since it's been a fairly quiet week on the political front, we decided to give FTP the week off as well. This may add to the confusion yesterday's April Fool article created, for which we sincerely apologize. Tune in next week when our regular Friday roundup resumes its normal schedule. Today, instead, we're going to feature our monthly "Obama Poll Watch" column, which takes a look back at last month's poll numbers for President Obama.


Unhealthy Bounce

Fans of Obama have been wondering "Where's the bounce?" for the past week or so. Signing health reform into law was one of the biggest issues Obama campaigned on, so everyone was looking for a healthy bounce in Obama's poll numbers after it passed. This bounce has either failed to materialize yet, or is so gradual it likely won't end up being called a "bounce." A few more weeks of polling will likely resolve this open question, one way or the other.

But Obama's approval numbers did manage to rise this month, which stops a nine-month slide downwards. He may have bottomed out, in other words. But this gain was modest indeed, only two-tenths of a percent, so it can't really be said that his numbers are improving much, at least not yet.

But let's take a look at the chart for March before we get into these numbers. Afterward, we continue looking back at past presidents' approval numbers, with John F. Kennedy's very impressive graph. Charts for all presidents back to Kennedy, and comparisons to Obama's numbers, are always available at the site. But enough site plugging, let's take a look at last month's Obama chart:

Obama Approval -- March 2010

[Click on graph to see larger-scale version.]


March 2010

It's likely that the health reform debate went on for so long, with so many twists and turns, that the American public had already made its mind up on the issue, meaning actual passage of the bill didn't change the numbers as much as they might have, had the process been shorter. The only movement was at the margins, in other words.

April may prove to be a good month for the president, however, since he's got a treaty signing lined up with Russia, and since the unemployment picture is looking a bit brighter. If Obama manages to get some sort of jobs bill passed, and joins in the battle over Wall Street reform with a passion, then he's got a good chance of building his numbers back up again in the upcoming month.

In March, Obama chalked up a 48.1 percent approval rating, up 0.2 percent from February. This is only the fourth time in his presidency that he has moved this number upwards, so even though the gain is a small one, it is still notable. At the same time, however, his disapproval number climbed 0.3 percent to an all-time high of 46.4 percent. Both the gains in approval and disapproval came from undecideds making up their minds.


Overall Trends

Obama's daily numbers charted a somewhat strange course this month. For the first two-thirds of the month, his approval was fairly high (in the 48-49 percent range), but then took a big dip right when the health reform bill passed and was signed. For the first time ever, his approval rating was below his disapproval rating for three days, hitting a low on the twentieth of the month, at 47.2 approval versus 47.8 disapproval. But, while this was an all-time daily high for disapproval, once the bill passed, Obama's numbers started to recover somewhat, and he ended the month on an upswing (48.6 approval, 46.3 disapproval).

All of this translates into a rise to 48.1 percent average approval for the month, and a 46.4 percent disapproval. Or, to put it another way, not much of a bounce at all. But you have to consider that health reform didn't pass until the month was nearing its end, which means next month may be more instructive.

At the very least, Obama has indeed stopped his slide, at least for the time being. But for the second month in a row, his approval number average never got above 50 percent for even one day. And Obama set a new daily all-time high for disapproval (47.8 percent) and a new all-time daily low in approval (47.0 percent), within one day of each other.

Still, while the numbers probably aren't exactly making anyone in the White House jump up and cheer, if Obama can sustain the uptick in the graph (and build upon it next month), this could be seen as a significant turning point for the president's poll numbers. As always, time will tell. For now, remaining cautiously optimistic is probably the best way to look at the situation.


Obama v. John F. Kennedy

We continue our series of looking back at previous presidents this month by taking a look at J.F.K.'s numbers (we've only got a few more months to go in this backwards-looking series, I should mention, as F.D.R. is really the first president where public polling data is available). Let's take a look at Kennedy's impressive chart:

John F. Kennedy

[Click on graphs to see larger-scale versions.]

Kennedy's numbers, to be blunt, are hard to beat. John Fitzgerald Kennedy enjoyed one of the longest and strongest waves of public approval of any modern president. It wasn't until a year and a half into his term that his poll numbers sank below 70 percent, which is a gold-standard achievement for any president. During this period, his disapproval rate was beneath 20 percent, and for the most part, below "undecided," which is truly stunning.

Kennedy's approval numbers did slide to just above 60 percent, but then he got a major bounce in the polls for his handling of the Cuban Missile Crisis, in late 1962. This bounce lasted almost a full year. It wasn't until just before his tragic assassination that his poll numbers dropped below 60 percent. Sadly, we'll never know if Kennedy could have boosted his numbers back up to astronomical levels again in time for re-election.

Now, a quick look at Kennedy versus Obama:

Obama v. Kennedy -- March 2010

[Click on graphs to see larger-scale versions.]

As I pointed out, Kennedy is pretty hard to beat in the approval department. Obama's numbers don't even come close, even during his "honeymoon" period after his Inauguration.

In fact, so far, the closest parallel to Obama's chart from the past is none other than Ronald Reagan (see chart, if interested), whose approval and disapproval lines crossed at this point in his first term (which, so far, Obama has been able to avoid). Out of all the presidents back to Kennedy, Obama and Reagan seem to be the closest match, at least up until now.

Next month we'll take a look at Dwight D. Eisenhower's numbers.

That's it for now, so keep watching those polls until next month! And, don't worry, Friday Talking Points will be back in this space next week, as usual.


[Obama Poll Watch Data:]

Column Archives

[Feb 10], [Jan 10], [Dec 09], [Nov 09], [Oct 09], [Sep 09], [Aug 09], [Jul 09], [Jun 09], [May 09], [Apr 09], [Mar 09]


Obama's All-Time Statistics

Highest Monthly Approval -- 2/09 -- 63.4%
Lowest Monthly Approval -- 2/10 -- 47.9%

Highest Monthly Disapproval -- 3/10 -- 46.4%
Lowest Monthly Disapproval -- 1/09 -- 19.6%

Highest Daily Approval -- 2/15/09 -- 65.5%
Lowest Daily Approval -- 3/21/10 -- 47.0%

Highest Daily Disapproval -- 3/18/10 -- 47.8%
Lowest Daily Disapproval -- 1/29/09 -- 19.3%


Obama's Raw Monthly Data

[All-time high in bold, all-time low underlined.]

Month -- (Approval / Disapproval / Undecided)
03/10 -- 48.1 / 46.4 / 5.5
02/10 -- 47.9 / 46.1 / 6.0
01/10 -- 49.2 / 45.3 / 5.5
12/09 -- 49.4 / 44.9 / 5.7
11/09 -- 51.1 / 43.5 / 5.4
10/09 -- 52.2 / 41.9 / 5.9
09/09 -- 52.7 / 42.0 / 5.3
08/09 -- 52.8 / 40.8 / 6.4
07/09 -- 56.4 / 38.1 / 5.5
06/09 -- 59.8 / 33.6 / 6.6
05/09 -- 61.4 / 31.6 / 7.0
04/09 -- 61.0 / 30.8 / 8.2
03/09 -- 60.9 / 29.9 / 9.2
02/09 -- 63.4 / 24.4 / 12.2
01/09 -- 63.1 / 19.6 / 17.3


Cross-posted at Democratic Underground

Cross-posted at The Huffington Post

Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant


-- Chris Weigant


29 Comments on “Obama Poll Watch -- March, 2010”

  1. [1] 
    Michale wrote:

    You won't see a CrapCare bounce for President Obama.

    With all of the new news about CrapCare being bad, Obama is lucky he doesn't see a nose dive.


  2. [2] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    kennedy was a machine! and speaking of machines, here's a link to a really cool statistical analysis of why republicans tend to hang together while democrats tend to splinter off:

  3. [3] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    i thought i'd posted this before, but i guess it didn't take. in the spirit of statistics, i found a very interesting blog entry on the statistical reasons why republicans hang together while democrats tend to splinter off.

  4. [4] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    OK, everyone -

    How's that? Are the comment numbers now too tiny? I think I like the brown better...

    Let me know.


  5. [5] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Oh, forgot to mention (also, just creating some test comments here to see how they look), you may have to "Reload" the page to see the new look.


  6. [6] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:



    Any thoughts? Love 'em? Hate 'em? Lemme know...


  7. [7] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    The numbers are not too tiny as far as I'm concerned. But, I do like the brown colour - a little less conspicuous.

    I hope you won't mind if I just ignore the numbers. :)

    What's a permalink? Seriously!

  8. [8] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Elizabeth -

    I will soon add (as a response to your intelligent suggestion) a "commenters tips" page, where all this stuff will be explained. But, stylistically, I just had to run by everyone the look and feel of the new things, just to see if anyone objected.


  9. [9] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    Well, I don't know how intelligent it was as I'll be the first to admit that I am probably THE most computer illiterate person here - by far!

    And, so I'll be making frequent use of the 'commenters tips' page. Just be sure to make it easy to find. :)

  10. [10] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    ... by the way, Chris ...

    I forgot to mention that you have got to be the most considerate writer in the blogosphere with an appreciation for intelligent discourse with your readers - from the most challenging issues of the day to the technical aspects of - that is second to none.

    You're the best!

  11. [11] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    testing, testing. i tried to comment twice yesterday, and the comments haven't shown up. i'm wondering whether it was something about my browser, or maybe the link i included, which was to a great statistical analysis of why the republicans stick together and democrats tend to splinter off. anyhow, i like both the numbers and the permalinks, both good things. i'll end this post without the link and see if maybe that was the problem...

  12. [12] 
    nypoet22 wrote:
  13. [13] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    ...yeah, apparently posts containing hyperlinks do not work for me here at the moment. for anyone who wants to see the link, go to blog[dot]okcupid[dot]com - the title of the entry is "The Democrats Are Doomed, or How A ‘Big Tent’ Can Be Too Big"

  14. [14] 
    Michale wrote:


    If you make a post that has more than one hyper-link, it is held for moderation. This prevents Link Spamming..

    You can always do what I do. If you make a post that requires more than one link, make an individual post for each link.

    It's lotsa fun.. :D


  15. [15] 
    Michale wrote:

    By the bi, CW..

    Numbers look perfect... :D


  16. [16] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    OK, I see the spam filter is a little overly cautious, as it does seem to be rejecting comments with links. Let me take a look at it. For now, I've reinstated all the filtered comments (Michale had one stuck, and a few from nypoet22, mostly trying to post the same link). Anyway, I will see what I can do.


  17. [17] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Oh, and I highly recommend anyone who likes charts to check out the link nypoet22 posted. It's a fairly detailed article, but worth a read.

    I have two problems with the methodology, one of which the author admits to in the article. (1) not everyone of every age thinks the same, so it's more "trends" than hard data points. (2) While people's thinking does change over time, it's hard to establish baselines because today's youth (for instance) is much more liberal in some aspects than the youth of my day (on gay rights, for instance) and trending more conservative on other issues (abortion, for instance). So it'd be hard to say that one age feels one way when that's kind of a moving target.

    But, like I said, nitpicking aside, it is an excellent article with lots of very cool graphs -- thanks to nypoet22 for pointing it out!


  18. [18] 
    Kevin wrote:


    Re. your comment #9, I humbly submit that I'm more clueless. I too don't know about permalink, RSS feeds, or most of the options websites give me... Not a competition I want to be into :)

  19. [19] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    Well, it looks as though we may soon be getting a bit of an education in that regard. :)

  20. [20] 
    Michale wrote:

    Getting back on track...

    Allow me to explain to ya'all why Obama's agenda simply will not work in the here and now..

    First, let's take CrapCare and the precedent that it's mandate sets..

    So, we have a "direct order" from the Federal Government that tells us we HAVE to buy Health Insurance...


    Because it serves the "greater good"...

    Now, down the line, what can that lead to??

    Well, the government can order us to eat healthier...


    Because it serves the "greater good"...

    The government can order us to buy more economical cars..


    Because it serves the "greater good"...

    Can ya'all even POSSIBLY conceive how the "greater good" argument leads us into a totalitarian state, a'la DEMOLITION MAN....

    "Anything not good for you is bad, hence, illegal. Alcohol, caffeine, contact sports, meat . . . Bad language, child play, gasoline, uneducational toys, and anything spicy. Abortion is also illegal. But, then again so is pregnancy, if you don't have a license."

    To paraphrase that same movie, "I've seen {Obama's Agenda}. You know what it is? It's a 47-year-old virgin, sitting around in his beige pajamas, drinking a banana-broccoli shake, singing, "I'm an Oscar Meyer wiener."

    Next, we'll look at "redistribution of wealth" and all that THAT implies..

    But, I'll let ya'all digest this first... :D


  21. [21] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    OK, I'm working on it.

    Um, wait a minute, before I get to that... Michale, was "Demolition Man" the one with the line in it about "President Schwarzeneggar"? I forget...

    Sorry, got distracted there. So, I'm working on Comment Tips. Here's what I've got. What other subjects should I cover? Feel free to let me know your suggestions.

    - how to sign up as a site user
    - how to log in
    - how to comment
    - general politeness rules for commenters
    - reminder that I can boot anyone I feel like, wherever I feel like

    - how to post a simple link
    - html tags intro
    - (b) tag - bold
    - (i) tag - italic
    - (u) tag - underline

    - Permalinks
    - fancier tags like (span), possibly others(?)
    - (a html) tag
    - how to post a photo
    - stern warning not to post copyrighted photos

    That's all I can think of at the moment, let me know any other ideas you may have, especially if you (1) have unanswered questions about commenting, or (2) you are an expert and see something I've missed here.



  22. [22] 
    Michale wrote:

    Um, wait a minute, before I get to that... Michale, was "Demolition Man" the one with the line in it about "President Schwarzeneggar"? I forget...

    It was indeed... :D

    Huxley: I’ve been an enthusiast of your escapades for quite some time now. I have, in fact, perused some newsreels from the Schwarzenegger Library, and that time you took that car...

    Spartan: —Hold it. The Schwarzenegger Library?

    Huxley: Yes. Schwarzenegger Presidential Library. wasn’t he an actor when you...

    Spartan: —Stop. He was president?

    Huxley: Yes. Even though he was not born in this country, his popularity at the time cased the 61st amendment, in which they said...

    Spartan: —I don’t wanna know.

    Posting the quotes made me want to watch the movie again.. :D


  23. [23] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    I'm not sure which Comment Tips heading this would properly go under but, how to deal with Michale should fit nicely in there somewhere.

    Just kidding! ... sort of. :)

    P.S. Notice that I've finally learned how to use italics and bold? It only took a couple or three years!

  24. [24] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Elizabeth -

    Now, now...


    I'm about 2/3 done with the comment tip page, but may not finish it tonight. Then once I get it up and running, I have to add a link to the code so people can find it, which will take more time. Anyway, just a progress report for everyone. It's getting there...

    Nice italics and bold, I must say! Next up for you: how to create a hidden link -- you're oviously ready for the big time.



  25. [25] 
    Michale wrote:

    I'm not sure which Comment Tips heading this would properly go under but, how to deal with Michale should fit nicely in there somewhere.


    "I'm gonna twist ya. I'm gonna flip ya, frap your body 'til your bones hurt! When you squeal, I'm just going to go faster and harder."


  26. [26] 
    Michale wrote:

    Now let's talk about Obama's "redistribution" plan..

    For this, I am going to give you an example of a college economics professor at an upstate New York school of higher education.

    This professor's class had insisted that Obama's "redistribution of wealth" program can work and that no one would be poor and no one would be rich, a great equalizer. The professor then said, "OK, we will have an experiment in this class on Obama's plan". All grades would be averaged and everyone would receive the same grade so no one would fail and no one would receive an A....

    After the first test, the grades were averaged and everyone got a B. The students who studied hard were upset and the students who studied little were happy.

    As the second test rolled around, the students who studied little had studied even less and the ones who studied hard decided they wanted a free ride too so they studied little. The second test average was a D. Now, no one was happy.

    When the 3rd test rolled around, the average was an F. The scores never increased as bickering, blame and name-calling all resulted in hard feelings and no one would study for the benefit of anyone else.

    All failed, to their great surprise, and the professor told them that redistribution of wealth would also ultimately fail because when the reward is great, the effort to succeed is great but when government takes all the reward away, no one will try or want to succeed.

    The fatal flaw in Obama's plan is that it fails to take into account human nature. It makes grand assumptions about human beings that just aren't true.


  27. [27] 
    Michale wrote:

    Five more states have joined the FL et al Lawsuit against CrapCare...


  28. [28] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    I wish them all well on their little adventure. After all, it's not like they have anything more important that needs their urgent attention.

  29. [29] 
    Michale wrote:

    I would just like someone (anyone!!) to explain to me exactly HOW the Federal Government can FORCE someone to buy something (at their OWN expense) that they may not want to purchase.

    None of the talking heads in the media have been able to answer this.. They all say, "Oh, these lawsuits will fail" and "Oh they have no legal case" etc etc...

    But NO ONE has been able to say WHY....

    Funny how that is, eh??

    Hell, the very scary precedent it sets should be enough to have ya'all screaming for the hills.

    Imagine a GOP Controlled Congress and White House forcing ya'all to buy GM Trucks and SUVs because it's for the good of the country...

    How would ya'all feel about THAT!?? :D

    Strictly discussing the LEGAL issues, there is no way that CrapCare will be found to be constitutional. CrapCare's only hope is that Obama will be able to stack the SCOTUS in his favor before CrapCare comes before it.


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