There’s been a lot of talk about President Barack Obama’s approval ratings, as they’ve hovered around the low 40s during his sixth year in office. A recent poll by Quinnipiac University had respondents identifying Obama as the worst U.S. president since World War II, and Gallup’s poll gave the president a 42 percent approval rating for the month of June. However, the research firm sought to give context to the ratings, saying, “Obama’s current performance is certainly not as bad as it could be.”
The dissatisfaction with Obama is not as intense as that with Congress. A recent Gallup poll showed only 7 percent of Americans saying they had a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in Congress — a historic low. And while Quinnipiac’s poll showed that 33 percent of American voters rated Obama as the worst president since 1945, the poll has seen some backlash for how easily it played into partisan differences. Being multiple choice, it favored Republicans, who were more likely united behind Reagan, while Democrats are more divided on ranking Democratic presidents.
Gallup noted that there have only been five presidents since WWII who were elected and served on through their sixth year: Eisenhower, Nixon, Reagan, Clinton, and George W. Bush. Gallup reported that Eisenhower, Reagan, and Clinton were seen more favorably than Obama is at this point in their terms. Clinton’s approval ratings were still at 60 percent in June 1998, despite public discussion of the Monica Lewinsky scandal.
In June of his sixth year in office, Nixon had an approval rating of 26 percent. Of course, despite the controversies that have cropped up around the Obama administration, Nixon was in an entirely different level of hot water in June 1974, a month after impeachment hearings spurred by the Watergate scandal had commenced.
George W. Bush was sitting with a 37-38 percent approval rating in June 2006, as Americans were showing disapproval of the war in Iraq. In May, Gallup took a look at the similarities in approval ratings that Bush and Obama saw, noting that Obama’s reception saw more of a recovery than Bush’s in the early months of his sixth year — Bush was continuing to fall in the polls at that point — but Obama’s rating staying low, at 42 percent, in June doesn’t follow his performance improving as much as expected.
However, Obama doesn’t fall into the group of five presidents who received an approval rating in the 20 percent range: Truman, Nixon, Carter, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush. And while Obama’s rating has dropped and stayed low for quite some time, it hasn’t hit its all-time low, recorded by Gallup, of 38 percent since October 2011. And let’s not forget party politics. Last month, 79 percent of Democrats approved of the job Obama is doing.