Flattest Year Ever Continues
Barack Obama has had not only his most stable year of job approval polling, but quite likely the most stable year ever recorded for any president (since scientific public opinion polling began). Now, this doesn't mean Obama's been charting extraordinarily good numbers (he is roughly 13 points lower than President Bill Clinton was, at this point in his second term), nor extraordinarily bad numbers (Obama is also polling 13 points above where George W. Bush was, at this point) -- but Obama's numbers have indeed been extraordinarily stable. Both his job approval monthly average and his job disapproval monthly average have kept within a range of around one percent, all year long.
You can see this in the chart. Just before the calendar year began, Obama got a big spike upwards in job approval. Since January, however, things have been pretty flat.
[Click on graph to see larger-scale version.]
Obama finished October with no net gain or loss. His job approval number inched down 0.3 points to finish the month at 45.3 percent. His job disapproval number balanced this loss by improving by exactly the same amount, to finish at 50.0 percent. The difference between the two stayed at 4.7 percent, unchanged from last month.
The president wasn't in the news all that much last month, which may be a major reason why his numbers didn't change all that much. Or perhaps, as we approach the final year of his presidency, everyone's just already made up their minds about him. Either way, there were a few minor news items from the White House, but nothing made a big splash in the headlines.
This was mostly due to the continuing focus on the presidential nomination race, of course. October saw the first Democratic debate and the third Republican debate, both of which dominated the political news. The Democratic side has been reduced to three candidates, and Joe Biden finally decided against running. The Republican side is as crazy as ever, with no winnowing in sight.
Congress was in the news last month, but the fireworks all the pundits were expecting mostly fizzled (with the exception of the speaker race). John Boehner put together a "barn-cleaning" final deal with the Democrats and the White House, but it was of the nature of the "dog that didn't bark in the night," since some were predicting another government shutdown or debt default -- neither of which happened, as a result of Boehner's final swansong. The House Republicans once again astonished everyone at their ineptitude when the man hand-picked for speaker had to hastily withdraw his candidacy -- and then every Republican in Washington had to go on bended knee before Paul Ryan, begging him loudly to save their bacon by accepting the job. And then, to top off this Keystone Kops act, Hillary Clinton emerged completely unscathed from 11 hours of grilling over Benghazi and her emails. Another dud, rather than the fireworks Republicans were expecting.
None of this, however, was reflected in Obama's approval ratings, because very little of it had anything to do with him.
If Obama keeps up the flat trendline he's managed all year long, it may be the most stable year in presidential polling ever, as I mentioned. His monthly average job approval numbers have fluctuated in a range of only 1.1 percent, from 44.6 up to 45.7 percent. To put this in context, his best month ever (when Osama Bin Laden was killed), he improved 5.0 percent in a single month. Even discounting that high point, he rose 3.0 percent in his second-best month. That's for only one month, compared to his record for the past ten. Obama's disapproval numbers have been even more stable, fluctuating in a range of only 0.9 percent all year (from 49.9 to 50.8 percent). Take a look at our expanded-view chart to see the remarkable stability Obama has seen all year:
[Click on graph to see larger-scale version.]
Within October, Obama's daily job approval average started roughly where he ended last month, at 45.5 percent, then dipped to a mid-month low of 44.6 percent, before recovering up to 46.1 percent by month's end. His disapproval numbers were more consistent, although the trend is not as good. Obama started the month with a daily average disapproval rating of 49.2 percent, but this rose fairly steadily throughout the month to hit 51.0 percent towards the end.
November doesn't have any enormously-contentious issues on the horizon (at least, that I'm aware of), although it'll be interesting to see how Ryan deals with the Tea Partiers in the House. The next big budget battle won't come until early December, however, so Obama may not be in the news much at all this month. The presidential race continues to heat up, and will also continue to dominate the political headlines. Thanksgiving might boost Obama's ratings purely on a feel-good holiday bump, but even if this happens it likely will fade away afterwards. After watching the first ten months of the year, the safe bet is that Obama will continue to post small gains and losses, but will overall remain remarkably stable.
[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)
10/15 -- 45.3 / 50.0 / 4.7
09/15 -- 45.6 / 50.3 / 4.1
08/15 -- 44.7 / 50.4 / 4.9
07/15 -- 45.7 / 50.0 / 4.3
06/15 -- 44.6 / 50.7 / 4.7
05/15 -- 45.4 / 50.0 / 4.6
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
[Sep 15], [Aug 15], [Jul 15], [Jun 15], [May 15], [Apr 15], [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