By Neil Newhouse and Lisa Valentine
Barack Obama started his term as president with one of the higher initial presidential approval ratings in recent history (64% according to Pew). However, his approval score has fallen further and faster than any elected US President since the era of modern polling. (Just so you know, I am defining modern polling as starting with President Jimmy Carter in the 1976 election.)
Obama’s approval rating has dropped thirteen points during his first six months in office (from 64% in February to 51% in August). This ties him with Bill Clinton for the largest drop off in the first six months of any of the last six presidents. But, more than half of Clinton’s slippage occurred over the first two months of his presidency (remember “Zoe Baird” and “gays in the military”?), whereas the bulk of Obama’s slippage (10 points) has occurred over the last three months.
(Note to reader: Not only has President Obama’s approval score fallen from the post-inaugural heights, but current data shows that his “strong disapprovers” outnumber his “strong approvers” – underscoring the intensity of the sentiment moving against him.)
What’s caused Obama’s quick descent? In a nutshell, there’s been a lot of spinning of wheels and burning rubber, but no perceived progress. The mood of the country is no more positive, Americans don’t believe they’ve felt the impact of the economic stimulus package, and they have become increasingly skeptical of Obama’s “big government spending” response to the nation’s challenges.
The data is pretty clear, and the August recess/vacation has apparently done little to soften voter attitudes regarding the direction that President Obama is leading the country.