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Obama's Second Year Widened the Partisan Divide on How He Is Seen

4 years ago
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Even some of Sarah Palin's supporters might concede she is a polarizing figure. But she gets some stiff competition on that score from President Obama. For a chief executive in the second year in office, he had a wider divide between how the two major political parties see him than any chief executive dating back to Dwight Eisenhower during comparable points in their terms, according to Gallup's numbers for 2010.

Democrats approved of the job Obama was doing by 81 percent last year compared to 13 percent for Republicans, a gap of 68 points. That was significantly above the "party gap" for Ronald Reagan in his second year (56 points) and Bill Clinton (54 points) in his sophomore year. The president with the smallest partisan gap was Jimmy Carter in 1978-79, for whom it was 29 points.

If all the years of previous presidents' terms are considered, Obama does get edged out by former President George W. Bush. In the years between 2004 and 2007, when Bush's popularity plummeted during his second term, the "party gap" for him ranged between 70 to 76 points. But Obama's 68 point gap in his second year is not far behind. The gap for Obama in his first year in office was 65 points.

When the entire terms of presidents who served before Obama are included, Bush accounted for 6 of the 10 most polarized presidential years.

Gallup notes a trend in recent years, saying "none of the presidents prior to Reagan averaged more than a 40-point gap in approval ratings by party. But from Reagan through Obama, all except George H.W. Bush have averaged more than a 50-point divide in party ratings."

While Obama's job approval rating overall has been rising following last year's lame duck session in which the Bush era tax cuts and unemployment benefits were extended, and his handling of the Arizona shooting tragedy, Gallup says "the rise in Obama's public support has not necessarily meant a reduction in the polarization of views about him, as there continues to be a nearly 70-point gap between Democratic and Republican approval ratings of the president."

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For those of who remember the great divide began during Reagan years, when middle class workers felt that minorities and the poor were their enemies, that myth a lot in part created by Reagan who convinced middle class Americans that they were too stupid to vote, litigate or manage their own money. So ever since the Republicans have convinced America that terms limit gives voters a choice, that they are too stupid to decide in a court of law what is liable, and that Social Security was funds for Republicans to use as a discretionary fund.

February 12 2011 at 6:13 PM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply

I wonder who these 13% of Republicans are that think Obama is doing a good job? A good job at what?

February 12 2011 at 4:50 PM Report abuse +6 rate up rate down Reply

Why all the comments about race , we are all Americans but with different ideas about the way our country is run!! I don't care what color Obama is may God bless
him and his family! I would vote for him if he and I agreed on policy but we don't! People need to lay down the race card and just talk about our different
views! Sure we have many news programs that lean one way or the other but thats good for debate ,we don't need to cut off one or the other ,just listen to both and make a decision to vote on that .

February 12 2011 at 11:18 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

Not one of the other presidents has had a 24 hour news network , that it appears their only job is weaken the image of the President.

Fox viewers don't even know what the truth of matters are if the only outlet they listen to is FOX. Fox is by far the least truthful of all the networks.

February 10 2011 at 12:01 PM Report abuse -10 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to stevegeryk's comment

I applaud you,stevegeryk. You seem to have your head on straight. Thank God for people like you.

February 10 2011 at 4:36 PM Report abuse -7 rate up rate down Reply

the president isn't doing anything but talking. when he talks everyone stops to listen. that is why he spends 364 days on the road talking. he doesn't really know how to bring people together except to listen to what he says he's gonna do. in business i have known many men like him who tell you all the things they are going to do to make more money and make their company a household word, and then there are a few who just do it. people who wet themselves when the president speaks thinks he is marvelous, and those of us that watch what is actually happening think...not so much.

February 09 2011 at 8:50 AM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply

One of the factors that may be fueling President Obama's recent rise in job approval polls is that Americans are feeling better about the economy. New figures from Gallup, gathered from its January tracking surveys, found optimism about the economy at its highest since the pollster began tracking it in 2008.

February 08 2011 at 6:53 PM Report abuse -11 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to fpfp040408's comment

You mean the unemployment dropping to 9%? Bogus.

February 12 2011 at 4:53 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

polarized or not. People will vote in 2012 with the wallets and the economy is improving. Most people with the ability to buy and trade stocks are mostly republican and are loving the current situation now as the stock market is booming. Who cares what Beck and the tea party say and lets all ignore Sarah and watch our President continue to move us in the right direction.

February 08 2011 at 6:32 PM Report abuse -14 rate up rate down Reply

This is a totally different era. U have internet, 24 hour cable. The polarization has come from the right. The rise of fox (not) news. They have even purge their own party to the loonys and the far right! This is bogus based how far the right has gone. Also he is black. They dont mention that. The false rumors and the muslim rhetoric and hate. please. The right and whites have lost it sonce this man has become president. The right has none of the facts right and its all rhetoric. No matter what this guy does he will not get credit for anything from the right. Thats the difference.

February 08 2011 at 5:04 PM Report abuse -11 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to emanuous's comment

you are so right, just lets not do what we accuse the right of doing. There are plenty of white democrats and independents who support and understand the difficulty our President faces and believe he is doing great work on our behalf. I am one of them

February 08 2011 at 6:16 PM Report abuse -13 rate up rate down Reply

Many moderate Republicans have left the party in the last few years. Some became Democrats but most registered as Independents. I wonder what the "gap" is between Republicans, Democrats and Independents.

February 08 2011 at 3:00 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

January 2011 - 187,000 jobs added. Just last night the Nightly Business Report said that the Dow is soaring because our manufacturing sector is at a six year high. They also report weekly where the jobs are being created -It is time to acknowledge that President Obama and his administration and legislation is indeed working. GOD BLESS PRESIDENT OBAMA

February 08 2011 at 12:28 PM Report abuse -14 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to fpfp040408's comment

You sure about that 187k, because according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics there was only a positive gain of 36k jobs created in January. Just curious where you get that number.

February 08 2011 at 12:47 PM Report abuse +21 rate up rate down Reply

I read 36,000 in January. BTW, we need to add 500,000 jobs a month for 2 years in order to bring unemployment down to 8%...

February 12 2011 at 8:33 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

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