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Obama reaches approval rating lows in Presidents' Day polls

President Barack Obama's poll ratings remain low according to CNN and Gallup, with the economy again the top issue, Feb. 17, 2014
President Barack Obama's poll ratings remain low according to CNN and Gallup, with the economy again the top issue, Feb. 17, 2014
Brendan Sialowski/AFP/Getty Images

To celebrate Presidents' Day on Monday, Feb. 17, 2014 CNN compiled an average of all recent presidential approval polls, it was one gift that President Barack Obama could do without, as his approval rating tumbled to 42 percent one of the lowest showings of his presidency according to CNN. The CNN Poll of Polls concluded that with the 42 percent approval rating, Obama had a large majority of 53 percent disapproving of his job performance.

CNN's poll seems downright generous in comparison to Gallup Poll's weekly summary from Feb. 10-16 that places Obama's approval rating at a very low 40 percent, and matching CNN's disapproval rating at 53 percent. Despite Obama unveiling his economic opportunity program during his State of the Union aimed at lifting low-income Americans up to the middle class and improving the middle class, and a lowering unemployment rate, the economy again according to Gallup is Americans number one problem. The President's economic opportunity program has four parts, creating good paying jobs, technical job training programs, education initiatives from Pre-K to college, and raising the minimum wage. Obama has been signing executive orders to implement his initiatives.

Still CNN finds these numbers to be an improvement from his all time lows in November and December 2013, after the disastrous rollout of his healthcare law, where his approval rating sat at 41 percent and his disapproval rating reached a sky high 58 percent according to CNN's polls.

The year 2013 was a presidential low point for President Obama, he might have won his second term with a majority of the votes, in a victorious showing that was coupled with an equally glowing approval rating way up at 52 percent at the time of his second inauguration, now his disapproval rating overtakes that number.

A number of scandals rocked the administration in spring 2013 that started Obama poll numbers descent. According to CNN in May 2013 Obama's numbers were equal with a 47 percent approval and disapproval rating.

There was the IRS scandal in April and May 2013 were there was "congressional investigations into IRS targeting of conservative political groups" applying for tax-exempt status including those associated with the Tea Party. Coupled with the extent of the NSA, National Security Agency’s intelligence surveillance program revealed in June by former contractor Edward Snowden in the British and American press, with over the next few months Snowden dropping more bombshells making it difficult for the administration to explain why they were monitoring Americans, foreign nationals and world leaders' communications all in the name of national security.

Then there was the disastrous health care law, the Affordable Care Act rollout in October, which impacted Obama's poll numbers in November and December to the lowest points of his Presidency, with some polls reaching as low as the high thirties for approval ratings and the high fifties for disapproval ratings. Obama's numbers were lower than his predecessor President George W. Bush's at the same point in his presidency. Both the insurance purchasing Marketplace website, was riddled with errors and did not properly work and millions of Americans were losing their coverage with the law's new minimum requirement.

Then White House met their Nov. 30 imposed deadline to repair the website on Nov. 14 the President allowed insurance companies to reinstate the cancelled insurance policies or let Americans who lost their insurance buy similar ones through 2014. Now with 3.3 million Americans enrolled in the health insurance program, the disasters has recessed a bit in the minds of the public, but not enough for the President's poll numbers to rebound.

The economy might be the new reason for President Obama's polling problems, according to a Gallup poll also released on Monday, Feb. 17; the economy again tops Americans concerns and particularly unemployment. According to Gallup Americans again view the top problem as unemployment and jobs with 23 percent and the "economy in general" at 20 percent. This is despite the January jobs report where there was a gain of 113,000 new jobs and the unemployment rate fell to 6.6 percent the lowest rate since 2008.

The economy had been the reigning champs of Americans' "most important problem" since 2009, when Obama took office, but the government shutdown this past October put dissatisfactions with government, Congress and politicians at the number one spot, it is now pushed down to number 3 with 19 percent. While the only other problem to post double-digit concerns is healthcare with 15 percent of Americans viewing it as a top problem.

The new found concern again for the economy might be the reason behind a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll also released on Monday, Feb. 17 that indicated that Americans think the country is "worse off than 2009" than in the middle of the great recession. According to the poll; "By a 39 percent to 31 percent margin, Americans believe the country is currently worse off compared with where it was when Obama first took office. Another 29 percent say it’s in the same place."

The NBC poll also showed that Americans are concerned by the extreme partisanship in the country, with a majority believing the "current state of the nation" is divided with 37 percent, followed by "troubled 23; deteriorating, 21; broken, 14 %." Despite President Obama’s low ratings, Congress' is in a far worst position this mid-term election year at a meager 12 percent approval rating, and on average Americans give their own Congressional representative only 28 percent approval.

The economy is affecting the President's ratings even though a recent CNN/ORC International survey released on Feb. 6, showed some optimism that the economy is improving, while at the same time indicating Americans still blame Obama's predecessor President George W. Bush and the Republicans more for the economic problems than they do President Obama and Democrats.

The CNN poll showed that 36 percent of Americans consider the economy now as "good," the highest positive rating the economy has received since January 2008, before the economic collapse. Although there is optimism in those numbers, 64 percents of Americans still find the economy is "poor."

At the same time 44 percent blame the economic problems on Bush, with only 33 percent blaming Obama and a mere 14 percent blame both presidents and parties. Still this is the first time the blame on Bush lowered below 50 percent.

The NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll also proves that the country is disillusioned with President Obama and the promises he made when first elected President in 2009, all contributing to the reasons behind his low approval ratings. According to Joe Rothstein the editor of; "What underlies President Obama's low poll numbers? It can’t be his position on many issues, which are very close to where the public comes out…. Distress with the President isn’t about his program, it’s about his failure to move it."


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