Barack Obama is hardly the nation’s most popular president, but his approval rating is on the up and up.
People have been beating up on Barack Obama for some time now, but one of the more interesting trends we’ve seen since the 2014 midterm elections has bee a modest but very real rise in Barack Obama’s personal popularity.
In fact, the latest Gallup tracking poll from last Friday the 23rd had him at 50% approval, which is higher that Ronald Reagan’s approval at the beginning of the seven year of his presidency.
This rise is largely a product of the improving economy of course, which seems to have finally moved from “sluggish recovery” to “regular recovery” mode, and is a great reminder that presidential popularity is driven by the fundamentals, not who is winning the latest Washington spin wars. In addition chaotic world events have settled down down a bit compared to the summer and the fact that the electorate isn’t being bombarded by attack ads as they were back in the fall probably has something to do with it as well.
In some ways this was to be expected. As pollster Charles Franklin pointed out on Twitter, Obama’s numbers have been remarkably stable compared to many other modern presidents. So it’s not unusual for Obama’s 2014 slump to be followed by an uptick.
This hardly changes the fundamental realities of our politics however. We still have divided government with Congress controlled by a party that doesn’t seem interested in cutting deals with the president. Which means not a whole lot is going to get done in the next two years. But higher approval rating does mean that Obama is in a stronger position to pressure his own party in Congress and the federal government as a whole to make sure his priorities get acted upon.
The real winner here has to be Hillary Clinton the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination in 2016. A more popular Obama means its more likely that Hillary will win. But then again if the economy slides back into recession or the US gets involved in another disastrous foreign war, Obama’s new found popularity and Hillary’s 2016 chances could evaporate pretty quickly.
Guess we’ll have to wait and see.
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Photo: Cliff Owen/AP