Obama regains ground
After a somewhat disappointing March in public opinion polling, President Obama has regained ground in April. His monthly average job approval was up, and his job disapproval numbers went down even more. All around, it was a pretty good month, but to put it in perspective he's really just roughly gotten back to where his numbers were in February. Let's take a quick look at the new chart.
[Click on graph to see larger-scale version.]
April had a lot of political news, but little of it directly affected President Obama. This was the month when the 2016 presidential election contest truly got under way, with four candidates announcing: Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Hillary Clinton, and Bernie Sanders. With Hillary's entry into the race, in particular, the Republicans have turned their attention more to attacking her than taking potshots at Obama. This trend may continue for a while, in fact, which will (obviously) help Obama in the polls.
Obama wasn't entirely absent from the news, as an interim deal was reached with Iran (a "framework" for the final deal). The terms were much stronger than his detractors had expected, which dampened down the criticism to a certain degree. Congress and the White House reached a deal of their own over the Iran negotiations, and it's debatable who gained more. Obama, of course, didn't want any Congressional vote at all, but what Obama got out of the deal was that Congress won't be able to block his deal without a two-thirds veto-proof majority vote. That's not such a bad deal for Obama, which is why he signed on to it.
There was one other piece of negative news within the administration, when the head of the Drug Enforcement Agency was forced to resign in disgrace, after it was revealed that agents who went to "sex parties" paid for by drug cartels were barely disciplined at all (and in some cases, promoted). But Obama did the right thing by forcing her out, and now he'll have the opportunity to pick someone who will be able to reform the agency.
There was other big political news, but again, not directly related to Obama. Gay marriage got what could be its final day in court at the Supreme Court, and two videos caused an uproar in the realm of policing (one of a cop shooting a fleeing man in the back, and one which touched off riots in Baltimore).
Barack Obama's monthly average job approval rating went up by 0.3 points in April, to wind up at 45.2 percent. Obama showed more improvement in his monthly average disapproval number, which fell almost a whole point down to 49.9 percent. This is an important milestone for the president, as it is the first time in 21 months that his disapproval rating is below 50 percent. His numbers are now both in the 45-50 range, which is much better territory to be in than (for approval) the 40-45 percent range, where they were mired for much of 2013 and all of 2014.
Obama regained ground in April, ground he had lost in March. His job approval numbers (starting from February) went from 45.4 to 44.9, and are now back up to 45.2 percent. In the same period, his disapproval numbers fluctuated more, going from 50.1 to 50.8, and then back down to 49.9. The gap between the two is now 4.7 percent, exactly what it was in February. This is the best it has been since August, 2013, but it's still underwater, of course.
The trend is rather flat at the moment, but isn't all that bad overall. Obama has had four positive months out of the past five, and is clearly holding onto the big gains he made in January. Since the trendlines are so flat, here's an expanded view of the past year:
[Click on graph to see larger-scale version.]
Job approval is flatter than disapproval, as you can see, but they both seem to have hit a plateau of sorts. Obama is tantalizingly close to getting his numbers above water once again (approval higher than disapproval), but he's got to gain two or three more points in order to do so. Currently, his daily average approval rating seems to have a ceiling of around 46.0 percent. One good trend for Obama was that his numbers spiked upwards (in the daily averages) at the very end of April, but this may just be a temporary fluctuation (which is why, of course, we track numbers by month here in the first place).
Congress is facing a few deadlines in May, so it may actually get a few things done. The public generally likes it when the president is signing bills, so this may help Obama somewhat (especially if they get a highway bill done, which always means more jobs). Also, the White House is indicating they're almost ready to announce a big change in how many workers are entitled to overtime pay, which will likely be wildly popular (even though nobody but serious wonks now even knows it is coming).
All in all, Obama's got a better-than-even chance of improving his numbers in May. He's starting to regularly get individual job approval polls rating him at 48 percent or better. If he can crack through the 46.0 percent barrier in his daily ratings, he could be within a few months of getting his numbers back above water once again -- for the first time in two years. Of course, that may be too optimistic a read, and his approval numbers could continue in the doldrums hovering around 45.0 percent. But we'll just have to wait until next month to see.
[Obama Poll Watch Data:]
Sources And Methodology
ObamaPollWatch.com is an admittedly amateur effort, but we do try to stay professional when it comes to revealing our sources and methodology. All our source data comes from RealClearPolitics.com; specifically from their daily presidential approval ratings "poll of polls" graphic page. We take their daily numbers, log them, and then average each month's data into a single number -- which is then shown on our monthly charts here (a "poll of polls of polls," if you will...). You can read a much-more detailed explanation of our source data and methodology on our "About Obama Poll Watch" page, if you're interested.
Questions or comments? Use the Email Chris page to drop me a private note.
Obama's Second Term Statistical Records
Highest Monthly Approval -- 1/13 -- 52.7%
Lowest Monthly Approval -- 11/13 -- 41.4%
Highest Monthly Disapproval -- 12/13 -- 54.0%
Lowest Monthly Disapproval -- 1/13 -- 42.6%
Highest Daily Approval -- 1/31/13 -- 52.5%
Lowest Daily Approval -- 12/2/13 -- 39.8%
Highest Daily Disapproval -- 12/2/13 -- 55.9%
Lowest Daily Disapproval -- 2/24/13 -- 42.3%
Obama's Second Term Raw Monthly Data
[All-time high in bold, all-time low underlined.]
Month -- (Approval / Disapproval / Undecided)
04/15 -- 45.2 / 49.9 / 4.9
03/15 -- 44.9 / 50.8 / 4.3
02/15 -- 45.4 / 50.1 / 4.5
01/15 -- 44.8 / 50.5 / 4.7
12/14 -- 42.4 / 52.8 / 4.8
11/14 -- 42.0 / 53.4 / 4.6
10/14 -- 42.1 / 53.4 / 4.5
09/14 -- 41.5 / 53.5 / 5.0
08/14 -- 41.6 / 53.0 / 5.4
07/14 -- 41.8 / 53.6 / 4.6
06/14 -- 42.4 / 53.4 / 4.2
05/14 -- 44.0 / 51.7 / 4.3
04/14 -- 43.4 / 52.1 / 4.5
03/14 -- 42.9 / 52.8 / 4.3
02/14 -- 43.3 / 52.3 / 4.4
01/14 -- 42.7 / 52.7 / 4.6
12/13 -- 41.9 / 54.0 / 4.1
11/13 -- 41.4 / 53.9 / 4.7
10/13 -- 44.2 / 50.8 / 5.0
09/13 -- 43.9 / 50.8 / 5.3
08/13 -- 44.4 / 50.2 / 5.4
07/13 -- 45.3 / 49.2 / 5.5
06/13 -- 46.5 / 48.5 / 5.0
05/13 -- 48.3 / 46.9 / 4.8
04/13 -- 48.6 / 46.8 / 4.6
03/13 -- 48.5 / 46.3 / 5.2
02/13 -- 51.1 / 43.0 / 5.9
01/13 -- 52.7 / 42.6 / 4.7
Second Term Column Archives
[Mar 15], [Feb 15], [Jan 15], [Dec 14], [Nov 14], [Oct 14], [Sep 14], [Aug 14], [Jul 14], [Jun 14], [May 14], [Apr 14], [Mar 14], [Feb 14], [Jan 14], Dec 13], [Nov 13], [Oct 13], Sep 13], [Aug 13], [Jul 13], [Jun 13], [May 13], [Apr 13], [Mar 13], [Feb 13], [Jan 13]
First Term Data
To save space, the only data and statistics listed above are from Obama's second term. If you'd like to see the data and stats from Obama's first term, including a list of links to the full archives of the Obama Poll Watch column for the first term, we've set up an Obama Poll Watch First Term Data page, for those still interested.
-- Chris Weigant
Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant