Obama’s overall job-approval rating stands at 50 percent, down five points from before he took the oath of office in January. Looking along partisan lines, the slippage since then has been particularly pronounced among political independents. Two months ago, independents tilted clearly in his direction, with 54 percent approving and 41 percent disapproving. Now, half of independents express a negative opinion of the president’s performance; just 44 percent approve.
The president has also seen an erosion in confidence among groups that he has counted as core supporters. Compared with a Post-ABC poll in December, the share of liberals who place their faith in Obama over Republicans when it comes to dealing with the economy is 14 points lower; there has been a 12-point slide among women.
At 50 percent, Obama’s overall standing in the poll is lower than that of most other modern second-term presidents at this point in their terms. Of the seven second-term presidents who have been in office since Harry S. Truman, only George W. Bush had a positive rating as low as 50 percent at this stage.
Obama and Bush share another similarity, one that describes what is arguably the most potent force shaping political decision-making in recent years: a deeply divided electorate. Among post-World War II presidents, Bush and Obama are the only ones to have led a nation as politically polarized as it is today. In both cases, there is a gap of more than 70 points between Democratic and Republican assessments of the president.
Congress remains far lower than the president in public esteem, with only 16 percent approving of its performance and 80 percent disapproving. That negative feeling extends to both parties, with congressional Democrats registering a ratio of 34 percent favorable to 62 percent unfavorable sentiment; Republicans are lower still, at 24 to 72.
The poll was conducted March 7 to 10 among a random sample of 1,001 adults. The full survey has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.