Obama at 100 Days: Strong Job Approval, Even Higher Personal Ratings

  • April 23, 2009

As he approaches the 100-day mark of his presidency, Barack Obama's job approval ratings are higher than those of his most recent predecessors. However, the 44th president is even more distinguished by his strong personal popularity. The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press finds that fully 73% of Americans – including as many as 46% of Republicans – hold a favorable view of Obama as a person. Fewer people held favorable impressions of George W. Bush (61%) and Bill Clinton (60%) early in their first years.

Obama's job approval stands at 63%, while 26% disapprove of the way he is handling his job as president. His approval rating is up slightly from March (59%). Opinions about Obama's performance remain highly partisan. Fully 93% of Democrats approve of the way Obama is handling his job as president, compared with just 30% of Republicans. Independents' opinions fall in between, with 58% expressing positive views of his performance and 27% negative opinions.

Pew Research previously found a greater partisan gap in Obama's early job approval ratings than in the ratings of past presidents. (See “Partisan Gap in Obama Job Approval Widest in Modern Era,” Commentary, April 2, 2009.) That continues to be the case. Obama's approval rating among Republicans (30%) is about the same as Bill Clinton's at a comparable point in his first year (25%), but Democratic approval – particularly strong approval – is much higher than it was for Clinton. Fully 79% of Democrats very strongly approve of Obama's job performance; only about half as many Democrats (39%) expressed very strong approval for Clinton at this stage in 1993. Obama's highly positive ratings from members of his own party also surpass Bush's 71% very strong approval among Republicans in April 2001.

The survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted April 14-21 among 1,507 adults interviewed in English and Spanish on landlines and cell phones, finds that Obama's job ratings on several specific domestic issues are on balance positive, but also reflect the division of opinion about many of his policies. For example, 60% approve of his handling of the economy generally, while 33% disapprove. Fewer (50%) approve of his handling of the budget deficit, compared with 39% who disapprove.

Read the full report Obama at 100 Days: Strong Job Approval, Even Higher Personal Ratings on the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press' Web site.