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A breakdown of the Obama approval rating polls released in early April

President Obama's approval rating has remained relatively stable over the last month.
President Obama's approval rating has remained relatively stable over the last month.
Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images

The most recent approval rating polls for President Obama, including two released over the last 48 hours, shows the President remaining in about the same territory he has been in since early February. A Real Clear Politics average of polls has President Obama 10.3 points in the negative, with 53.0 percent disapproving, and 42.7 percent approving. Last week, President Obama was approximately 9.5 points in the negative according to the RCP average. One month ago, the President had a -10.7 President Obama's job approval has generally been trending down since early June. Over the last year the low point for President Obama was early December 2013 when his approval rating was above negative 15. The high point for the President was late April 2013 when his approval rating neared positive 3.

Rasmussen Tracking

Poll of 1500 likely voters taken from 04/03/2014 to 04/05/2014

  • Approve 46%
  • Disapprove 52%

Analysis: Rasmussen has the most restrictive sample of all the pollsters listed here, including who they determine are “likely voters” rather than all adults or registered voters. Despite this fact, Rasmussen has the best number for the President of any polls recently released. Recently Rasmussen Reports actually had President Obama's approval numbers in positive territory, but today's poll has a distinctively downward turn.

Rasmussen has a documented history of favoring Republican candidates with their results and disfavoring Democrats. Specifically, Rasmussen has been criticized for allegedly using a likely voter model that favors Republicans.

In 2012, Nate Silver rated Rasmussen toward the bottom of his list of pollsters. On average, Rasmussen had an average error of 4.2 points which tended to favor the Republican candidate, Mitt Romney, over President Obama.

In July of 2013 Rasmussen announced that Scott Rasmussen was resigning as president of the organization. Since that time, Rasmussen Reports numbers have tended to be more favorable toward Democrat candidates.

Gallup Tracking

Poll of 1500 adults taken from 03/03/2014 to 03/05/2014

  • Approve 42%
  • Disapprove 53%

Analysis: Gallup’s poll includes all adults as opposed to registered voters or likely voters. This pollster gives President Obama an approval rating which is in line with the RCP average. Two weeks ago Gallup had President Obama with an approval rating of negative 7, so they also show a slightly negative trend.

Gallup’s pollster reputation took a big hit during 2012, when they consistently gave Obama much lower support numbers than he actually had when all the votes were tallied. Nate Silver rated Gallup the worst pollster of all the pollsters he analyzed, with an average error of 7.2 points which tended to favor the Republican, Mitt Romney, over President Obama. Since that time, Gallup has said they will implement changes to provide more accurate results, but they will not have a chance to really prove themselves again until 2014 and 2016.

The Economist/YouGov

Poll of 747 registered voters taken from 03/29/2014 to 03/31/2014

  • Approve 42%
  • Disapprove 56%

Analysis: In late March this pollster had President Obama with an approval rating of negative 9, so according to their data the President's numbers have taken a downward turn as well.

The Economist/YouGov's small sample size gives them the largest margin-of-error among all the pollsters listed here. Examining their 2012 polls, Nate Silver rated this pollster in the middle of all pollsters. On average, YouGov showed a 1.1 point bias toward the Republican candidate, Mitt Romney.

Reason-Rupe/PSRAI

Poll of 1003 adults taken from 03/26/2014 to 03/30/2014

  • 43% Approve
  • 51% Disapprove

Analysis: Reason uses a sample which would theoretically favor President Obama. Their negative eight approval rating is the second highest amongst the pollster listed here. This pollster did not release polls in the 2012 presidential election, which means there is no real track record to evaluate their performance.

This pollster links to Reason.com which describes itself in the following manner:

"Reason is the monthly print magazine of "free minds and free markets." It covers politics, culture, and ideas through a provocative mix of news, analysis, commentary, and reviews. Reason provides a refreshing alternative to right-wing and left-wing opinion magazines by making a principled case for liberty and individual choice in all areas of human activity."

The "free market" ideology of reason likely conflicts with with President Obama, but there is no way of knowing whether this influences their polling data.

Quinnipiac

Poll of 1578 registered voters taken from 03/26/2014 to 03/31/2014

  • 42% approve
  • 50% disappove

Analysis: Quinnipiac's negative 12 approval rating for the President falls in line with the RCP average. This was the first Quinnipiac approval rating poll released since mid-January, so it is impossible to identify any trends within their data.

In his analysis of 2012 presidential election polls Nate Silvey had Quinnipiac favoring President Obama by 0.3 points.

Fox News

Poll of 1002 registered voters take from 03/23/2014 to 03/25/2014

  • Approve 40%
  • Disapprove 53%

Analysis: The Fox News channel has often been accused of being biased against President Obama, but their polling outfit was not far off in the 2012 election. Who knows whether this is due to a separation between the opinionated, editorialized part of Fox News and the polling firm they use.

Fox News most recent poll has President Obama 13 points in the negative, which gave President Obama the second worst rating of all the pollsters listed here. In early March Fox News had President Obama with a negative approval rating of 16 points.