Gallup: Obama’s Approval ‘Well Shy of Where ... It Likely Needs Be’ for 2012 Win

By Terence P. Jeffrey | November 29, 2011 | 11:47am EST

Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter in the Oval Office. (AP Photo)

( - A new Gallup analysis of President Barack Obama’s approval rating released on Tuesday concludes that Obama’s approval level is now well below where it probably needs to be next year for him to win reelection.

“Obama's latest 43% weekly average approval rating matches his ratings for the prior four weeks,” says the analysis by Gallup's Lydia Saad. “While slightly improved over his approval ratings earlier this fall, it stands well shy of where it started in 2011 and where it likely needs to be in 2012 for Obama to win re-election.”

Gallup noted that with the exception of Harry Truman, all incumbent presidents who successfully sought reelection in the post-World War II era had approval ratings that averaged 50 percent or higher in the year in which they ran.

“Obama's initial 2011 approval ratings, averaging 49% in January, were just at the threshold that Gallup historical trends suggest are needed for a president seeking re-election to succeed,” said Gallup’s analysis.

“Gerald Ford lost his bid for the presidency in 1976 when his approval rating averaged 49%," Gallup noted. "However, Harry Truman averaged 48% job approval in 1948, the year he won a second term, and George W. Bush averaged 50% approval in 2004. All other successful incumbents had average job approval ratings of 50% or higher in their re-election year.”

According to data posted at Gallup’s online “Presidential Job Approval Center,” Harry Truman had a 54 percent approval rating in the period of Nov. 28-Dec. 2, 1947. That was 11 points higher than Obama’s current approval rating of 43 percent. Truman went on to defeat Thomas Dewey to win reelection in 1948.

Dwight D. Eisenhower had a 58-percent approval rating in the period of Nov. 17-22, 1955. Eisenhower defeated Adlai Stevenson to win reelection in 1956.

John F. Kennedy similarly had a 58-percent approval rating in the period of Nov. 8-13, 1963—Gallup’s last poll on his approval before he was assassinated in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963. Kennedy was succeeded by his vice president, Lyndon B. Johnson, who defeated Barry Goldwater in the 1964 election.

Johnson had a 42-percent approval rating in the period of Nov. 16-21, 1967. He later decided not to seek reelection in 1968.

Richard M. Nixon had a 50-percent approval rating in the period of Dec. 10-13, 1971. Nixon defeated Hubert Humphrey to win reelection in 1972.

Gerald Ford had a 41-percent approval rating in the period of Nov. 21-24, 1975. Jimmy Carter defeated Ford in the 1976 election. 

Carter's approval was at only 32 percent in the period of Nov. 2-5, 1979. It was during that period--on Nov. 4, 1979--that Islamic student radicals seized the U.S. Embassy in Iran, taking a group of Americans hostage. Immediately following the hostage-taking, Carter's approval spiked, climbing to 51 percent for the Gallup survey conducted Nov. 30-Dec. 3, 1979, and to 58 percent in the Gallup survey of Jan. 25-28, 1980. But as the Americans remained hostage in Iran, Carter's approval dropped back down into the 30s by the late spring of that year. Ronald Reagan defeated Carter in 1980 election. 

Reagan had a 53-percent approval rating in the period of Nov. 18-21, 1983. Reagan defeated Walter Mondale to win reelection in 1984.

George H.W. Bush had a 52-percent approval rating in the period of Nov. 21-24, 1991. Bill Clinton defeated Bush in the 1992 election.

Clinton had a 53-percent approval rating in the period of Nov. 17-18, 1995. Clinton defeated Bob Dole to win reelection in 1996.

George W. Bush had a 50-percent approval rating in the period of Nov. 14-16,2003. Bush defeated John Kerry to win reelection in 2004.

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