ObamaPollWatch.com

Obama Poll Watch -- January, 2017

[ Posted Friday, January 20th, 2017 – 17:06 PST ]

Obama's Final Honeymoon Ends Well

America now has a new president, meaning (among other things) it is time to take one final look back at the presidency of Barack Obama. The chart is now complete on the public's opinion of how President Obama performed his duties, and his final "honeymoon" period not only continued during January, it actually improved considerably.

Without further ado, let's take a look at the final Obama monthly average poll ratings.

Obama Approval -- January 2017

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

January, 2017

Obama's final month in office began strong, got stronger, and then shot even further upwards at the very end. All in all, a pretty impressive performance considering this "month" covers less than three weeks. [A technical note before I begin: today's figures from RealClearPolitics.com were only available through January 18th, so Obama's final numbers may wind up being slightly better when the last two days are added in to the data.]

Obama leaves office with a higher monthly average job approval rating than he has seen since his first honeymoon period. Not only is he now at a higher rate than for his entire second term (including his entire second honeymoon), he's at a higher point than at any time since the summer of 2009.

Obama's monthly job approval rose a half a point to end up at 54.3 percent. Obama's monthly job disapproval rating fell an even larger 0.9 percent, to end up at only 41.1 percent. His daily average approval was even more impressive, moving from 53.1 percent at the start of the month to a whopping 57.4 at the end. That's a jump of 4.3 percent, which Obama hasn't seen at any time during his second term. His daily average job disapproval fell at a more modest rate, from 41.9 at the start of the month down to 39.3 percent at the end of his term in office. These numbers, again, could even improve when the data from the final two days is posted.

Four of the most recent individual polls show why. In two of the polls, Obama registered 62 percent job approval, and in the other two 60 percent. His job disapproval in these polls ranged from 36 percent to 39 percent. That's a pretty strong finish, folks.

 

Overall Trends

Now, almost every outgoing president gets a certain final bounce in the polls, it should be mentioned (in all fairness). Even George W. Bush saw his numbers tick up at the very end (from 25.3 percent approval to 29.3 percent), so this is a normal occurrence. Even so, Obama's final months in office cap off a pretty spectacular final year in office in the polling. By some measures, Obama is actually doing better the day he leaves office than Dwight D. Eisenhower. That's pretty impressive, since Eisenhower never once fell below 50 percent job approval for his entire two terms in office. He fluctuated between 50 and 80 percent, setting a record that has yet to be matched by anyone. But in his final months, he was only at 59 percent approval -- lower than those four recent Obama polls.

But since we don't have to pay any attention to future trends (as we normally do in this section), let's instead take a look at Obama's performance overall. Since this will be the final installment of the Obama Poll Watch series of columns, I also wanted to include a slightly-annotated version of Obama's complete chart, which helps mark some important and influential events during Obama's two terms in office. So here is the same chart as above, with a few notes for context.

Obama Approval -- January 2017

Barack Obama spent most of his initial political capital getting the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act passed. It was a grueling exercise that all but consumed the first year and a half of his presidency. Right at the end of this period, the BP oil volcano erupted in the Gulf of Mexico, which meant night after night (and week after week) of videos on the news of a situation that was just completely out of anyone's control. Not exactly the best optics any president hopes for, to put it mildly.

This all pushed Obama's approval rating down below 50 percent, and by the 2010 midterm elections he was "underwater" for the first time, with his disapproval rating higher than approval. An interesting footnote is that no matter what happened at the ballot box, Obama consistently got a clear post-election bounce after every election he presided through. His approval rating jumped upwards after the 2010 Tea Party "shellacking," and then he got a short-lived boost when the death of Osama Bin Laden was announced.

This was followed by another down period, as the Tea Partiers vented their anger from their newly-won congressional seats. Obama's second presidential campaign was a lot tougher than his first, as throughout 2012 his job approval and disapproval matched up almost perfectly. Finally, towards the end of the summer, Obama did convince a majority of Americans to support him once again, leading to his second post-election bounce -- his "second honeymoon."

This one was a lot shorter and milder than his first, as you can see. He just barely got above 53 percent approval after being re-elected, but then saw his numbers take their deepest dive yet. Which brings us to our final detail chart, showing Obama's second term with an expanded scale (to better see the trends).

Obama (detail)

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

Obama's numbers tumbled in early 2013, as Congress proved to be as intransigent as ever. By autumn, Obama momentarily seemed to stabilize at around 44 percent approval, but then he got hit with a double-whammy: the weeks-long government shutdown, followed by the disastrous rollout of the HealthCare.gov website. This sent his job approval to the nadir of his entire presidency -- 41.4 percent average monthly approval, and a daily average that even slipped (for a single day) below 40 percent (39.8, on December 2, 2013).

Obama would eventually recover from this slump, but it took a very long time and it wasn't without setbacks. In the first half of 2014, Obama crawled back up to 44 percent approval, only to see it fall right back during the midterm election campaign (which was just as brutal as the 2010 midterm was). However, as noted, Obama has always gotten a nice bounce after all elections, no matter what the results turned out to be.

Obama rode this bounce up to around 45 percent approval, where he stayed for a solid year. These weren't numbers to brag about in any way, but they were decidedly better than what he went through in 2014.

Then the 2016 presidential campaign got underway in earnest, and Obama started up a very steep path to a very impressive finish. Since the end of 2015, Obama has gained 10.6 percent in job approval and seen his job disapproval fall by 10.3 percent. That is an amazing year for any president, and it is clear that the closer we got to choosing his replacement, the more the American public decided they were going to miss President Obama.

Obama finishes his second term 13.2 percent above water -- better than at any point since July, 2009. While he didn't match his initial stratospheric ratings (few presidents do), his final year's numbers seem assured to guarantee his legacy will be remembered fondly by the public.

A few final notes are necessary before I close out this eight-year-long column series. First, thanks to everyone who has either been reading from the beginning (the first of these columns ran in March of 2009) or just noticed it recently. When I started writing these, the polling information on the web was nowhere near as accessible as it now is, so I thought I'd do my own poll-tracking, choosing a monthly rolling average "poll of polls" to smooth out the spikes to a readable level. The graphs are pretty amateur, I fully admit, but it has certainly been interesting to track this stuff on a daily basis (as gathering data for the columns forced me to do).

I do not intend to put in this level of effort for Donald Trump. Perhaps its my own political bias, or perhaps it is because charts like these are a lot easier to find on the web now, but for whatever reason, I will only occasionally be chiming in on Trump's ratings. It's somewhat unfair, but Trump's current rating of 41.1 percent approval is actually lower than any of Obama's monthly marks (Obama's low point was 41.4 percent). That's a pretty dismal start, but again out of fairness I have to point out that there simply are no "job approval" numbers for Trump yet, because it is impossible for the public to have an opinion on the presidential job he's doing before he actually takes the oath of office. Personal approval ratings are not the same as job approval ratings, in other words. We'll see real job approval numbers start to come in for Trump in the next few weeks, and those are really the only measure that is comparable to any other president. But I don't expect them to improve all that dramatically in a few weeks' time, personally.

My final thought on Obama's completed job approval chart is that Obama truly lived up to the "No Drama Obama" label. For his entire presidency, his job approval numbers stayed between his initial high of over 63 percent down to his low of 41 percent. That's actually a very tight range, historically. George W. Bush saw his approval shoot up to over 85 percent (right after 9/11) but then absolutely collapse to a low of 25 percent (a dismal range only Richard Nixon had previously seen). So even though Obama's final chart has its ups and downs, he actually charted a historically steady course in the public's view for his entire eight years in office. And Barack Hussein Obama left office exactly as he began -- on a very high note indeed.

 

[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.

 

Note: Because this is the final column in this series, I'm providing all the data below for both of Obama's terms in office, for easy comparison.

 

Obama's Second Term Statistical Records

Monthly
Highest Monthly Approval -- 12/16 -- 54.3%
Lowest Monthly Approval -- 11/13 -- 41.4%

Highest Monthly Disapproval -- 12/13 -- 54.0%
Lowest Monthly Disapproval -- 12/16 -- 41.1%

Daily
Highest Daily Approval -- 1/17/17 -- 57.4%
Lowest Daily Approval -- 12/2/13 -- 39.8%

Highest Daily Disapproval -- 12/2/13 -- 55.9%
Lowest Daily Disapproval -- 1/18/17 -- 39.3%

 

Obama's First Term Statistical Records

Monthly
Highest Monthly Approval -- 2/09 -- 63.4%
Lowest Monthly Approval -- 10/11 -- 43.4%

Highest Monthly Disapproval -- 9/11, 10/11 -- 51.2%
Lowest Monthly Disapproval -- 1/09 -- 19.6%

Daily
Highest Daily Approval -- 2/15/09 -- 65.5%
Lowest Daily Approval -- 10/9/11 -- 42.0%

Highest Daily Disapproval -- 8/30/11 -- 53.2%
Lowest Daily Disapproval -- 1/29/09 -- 19.3%

 

Obama's Second Term Raw Monthly Data

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

Month -- (Approval / Disapproval / Undecided)
01/17 -- 54.3 / 41.1 / 4.6
12/16 -- 53.8 / 42.0 / 4.2
11/16 -- 52.9 / 44.0 / 3.1
10/16 -- 51.7 / 45.4 / 2.9
09/16 -- 50.5 / 46.4 / 3.1
08/16 -- 51.3 / 44.9 / 3.8
07/16 -- 49.6 / 46.7 / 3.7
06/16 -- 50.0 / 46.2 / 3.8
05/16 -- 48.8 / 47.3 / 3.9
04/16 -- 48.6 / 47.2 / 4.2
03/16 -- 48.4 / 47.4 / 4.2
02/16 -- 46.3 / 49.6 / 4.1
01/16 -- 45.5 / 50.2 / 4.3
12/15 -- 43.7 / 51.6 / 4.7
11/15 -- 44.4 / 51.3 / 4.3
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 / 43.1 / 5.9
01/13 -- 52.7 / 42.6 / 4.7

 

Obama's First Term Raw Monthly Data

Month -- (Approval / Disapproval / Undecided)
01/13 -- 52.7 / 42.6 / 4.7
12/12 -- 53.1 / 42.8 / 4.1
11/12 -- 50.6 / 46.7 / 2.7
10/12 -- 49.4 / 47.8 / 2.8
09/12 -- 49.1 / 47.6 / 3.3
08/12 -- 47.8 / 48.3 / 3.9
07/12 -- 47.2 / 48.1 / 4.7
06/12 -- 47.8 / 47.8 / 4.4
05/12 -- 48.1 / 47.8 / 4.1
04/12 -- 47.8 / 47.1 / 5.1
03/12 -- 47.7 / 47.2 / 5.1
02/12 -- 48.2 / 47.2 / 4.6
01/12 -- 46.3 / 48.3 / 5.4
12/11 -- 45.1 / 49.5 / 5.4
11/11 -- 44.4 / 50.2 / 5.4
10/11 -- 43.4 / 51.2 / 5.4
09/11 -- 43.5 / 51.2 / 5.3
08/11 -- 43.8 / 50.7 / 5.5
07/11 -- 46.2 / 47.8 / 6.0
06/11 -- 48.5 / 46.0 / 5.5
05/11 -- 51.4 / 43.1 / 5.5
04/11 -- 46.4 / 48.2 / 5.4
03/11 -- 48.1 / 46.4 / 5.5
02/11 -- 49.4 / 44.5 / 6.1
01/11 -- 48.5 / 45.7 / 5.8
12/10 -- 45.5 / 48.1 / 6.4
11/10 -- 45.5 / 49.0 / 5.5
10/10 -- 45.5 / 49.1 / 5.4
09/10 -- 45.7 / 49.7 / 4.6
08/10 -- 45.3 / 49.5 / 5.2
07/10 -- 46.6 / 47.4 / 6.0
06/10 -- 47.6 / 46.7 / 5.7
05/10 -- 48.1 / 45.5 / 6.4
04/10 -- 47.8 / 46.5 / 5.7
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

 

Second Term Column Archives

[Dec 16], [Nov 16], [Oct 16], [Sep 16], [Aug 16], [Jul 16], [Jun 16], [May 16], [Apr 16], [Mar 16], [Feb 16], [Jan 16], [Dec 15], [Nov 15], [Oct 15], [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 Column Archives

[Jan 13], [Dec 12], [Nov 12], [Oct 12], [Sep 12], [Aug 12], [Jul 12], [Jun 12], [May 12], [Apr 12], [Mar 12], [Feb 12], [Jan 12], [Dec 11], [Nov 11], [Oct 11], [Sep 11], [Aug 11], [Jul 11], [Jun 11], [May 11], [Apr 11], [Mar 11], [Feb 11], [Jan 11], [Dec 10], [Nov 10], [Oct 10], [Sep 10], [Aug 10], [Jul 10], [Jun 10], [May 10], [Apr 10], [Mar 10], [Feb 10], [Jan 10], [Dec 09], [Nov 09], [Oct 09], [Sep 09], [Aug 09], [Jul 09], [Jun 09], [May 09], [Apr 09], [Mar 09]

 

-- Chris Weigant

 

Cross-posted at The Huffington Post

Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant