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Obama still sky-high in US polls

The war-weary US public, gripped in a painful recession, shows no sign of turning away from President Barack Obama as he nears the 100-day mark, according to recent public opinion polls.

world Updated: Apr 26, 2009 12:57 IST

The war-weary US public, gripped in a painful recession, shows no sign of turning away from President Barack Obama as he nears the 100-day mark, according to recent public opinion polls.

Surveys taken in the run up to April 29, his 100th day in office, show about two out of three Americans approve of the way the vastly popular president is doing his job -- up slightly from March, down just a hair from when he took office.

And a new poll by the Pew Research Center found Obama’s personal appeal even stronger, with 73 percent of respondents holding a favorable view of him, including 46 percent of Republicans.

Obama’s 63 percent job approval rating at this point in his first term beats predecessors George W. Bush (56 percent at this point in 2001), Bill Clinton (55 percent in 1993), and George Bush (58 percent in 1989), Pew said.

But he comes in lower than Ronald Reagan’s 67 percent in 1981 and equals Jimmy Carter’s figure from 1977, according to the survey, which had an error margin of plus or minus three percentage points.

The November 2010 midterm elections that will test his powers of persuasion are still far away, but the surveys are still a reminder of his broad political clout, said presidential politics expert Stephen Hess.

“It’s important in that it gives him more of an opportunity to be successful,” said Hess, who is based at the Brookings Institution think tank in Washington. “These are very good figures.”

At the same time, the job approval gap by party affiliation is deeper than ever: About 30 percent of Republicans liked Clinton and like Obama, but twice as many Democrats strongly approve of Obama as they did of Clinton.

And Obama’s highly positive numbers from 79 percent of Democrats surpass his predecessor George W Bush’s 71 percent strong approval from Republicans in April 2001.

Other surveys show Republicans’ feelings about Obama have risen and fallen since he took office and recently drooped. “I think that the American people, after 100 days, know a lot more about Barack Obama then they did on January 20th. Some are very excited, others are maybe a bit more skeptical than they were,” said former Bush spokeswoman Dana Perino.

Obama appears to have met the public’s expectations, with 61 percent saying he was done as well as they expected and 25 percent saying he has done better, and nine percent saying he has done worse, said Pew.

Asked to sum up Obama with one word, 30 percent of respondents said “intelligent,” 29 percent said “good,” and 20 percent said “socialist” -- reflecting chiefly Republican unease at policies seen as expanding the US government’s role in the economy.

As for the US Congress, its job approval image has been on the mend: After slumping into the teens in late 2008, lawmakers now enjoy support from about 34.3 percent of Americans, according to an average of major surveys compiled by the specialized Web site RealClearPolitics.com Fifty-nine percent still disapprove, however.