*Despite all the criticism leveled at President Barack Obama, somebody must still like him.
According a new Gallup poll, the commander-in-chief scored a 50% job approval rating for the week ending March 6. The rating is a significant one in that it marks Obama’s highest weekly average since May 2013 and surpasses the president’s 48% weekly job approval average for the first two months of the year and rises above the 46% he averaged in his seventh year in office, which ended on Jan. 19 of this year.
In addition, the Gallup 50% approval surges past Obama’s 47% average since taking office in 2009, spanning nearly two full terms.
Along party lines, Obama’s latest overall rating is evidence of the deep polarization between Democrats and Republicans. The president’s job approval rating, among is 87% with Democrats, while 11% of Republicans approve of the job he is currently doing.
Comparing with his average approval rating among Democrats back when he took office in 2009, Obama’s current standing in the party is four percentage points higher. At the same time, Gallup notes Obama’s job approval ratings from Republicans and independents are close to his term averages for these groups.
Over the past two months, the president’s ratings among Republicans and independents have been more stable versus the increase Obama has from the 81% job approval rating at the beginning of this year with his current 87%.
Although there’s no specific reason for Obama’s rise in approval recently among Democrats recently, theories point to Donald Trump and the status of the Republican primary race. With the GOP presidential frontrunner’s controversial style and rhetoric, it looks to make Obama statesmanlike in comparison.
With Obama’s popularity improving steadily over the past year among Democrats, Gallup speculates this could be one reason why the party’s presidential frontrunner, Hillary Clinton, is closely aligning herself to Obama’s legacy.
In regards to the job approval of past presidents, Obama’s ranked lower than Bill Clinton, who’s approval rating was 63% in early March 2000. With Democrats, Clinton had 89% approval, compared to Obama’s 87%. On the Republican and independent side, Clinton’s approval rating was better than Obama’s as a majority of independents (65%) and close to a third of Republicans (31%) rated Clinton well.
For Obama’s most recent predecessor, George W. Bush, a 32% job approval rating for him is listed in March 2008. Although the opposing party rated Bush poorly like Obama today, the two differ with Bush not gaining as much support from Republicans. In all, fewer than three in four Republicans (72%) approved of Bush’s job performance at that time.
Going further back, Ronald Reagans’ job performance in March 1988 was almost identical with Obama’s current rating, with 51% of U.S. adults approving of the late president’s performance. Overall, Reagan wasn’t as polarizing as Obama, with an 81% approval rate among Republicans and 28% among Democrats.