Obama More Popular than Bush — Less than Clinton, Reagan, at Second Start

Photograph by Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg

An attendee holds an American flag with an image of President Barack Obama before the start of the presidential inauguration in Washington on Jan. 21, 2013.

With 60 percent of Americans surveyed voicing a favorable view of President Barack Obama at the start of his second term, his popularity is at its highest since his first year in office, according to an ABC News/Washington Post poll. His rating has gained 10 points since last summer, in the heat of the presidential election contest.

Obama last saw this level of approval in November 2009, according to the poll run by Langer Research Associates. His popularity had peaked at 79 percent days before he took office four years ago.

A narrow majority also approved of his second-term inaugural address last week – 51 percent approve in this poll — while just 24 percent disapproved, a 2-1 ratio in favor of the speech. A quarter of Americans surveyed offered no opinion of it.

Langer notes: “Favorability – which differs from job approval – is the most basic rating of a public figure’s personal popularity. Obama’s exceeds (George W.) Bush’s at the start of his second term by 5 percentage points, but trails (Bill) Clinton’s by 5 and (Ronald) Reagan’s by 12.”

More people voiced a “strongly” favorable opinion of Obama than those who had a strongly unfavorable one, 39 percent versus 26 percent, and twice as many strongly approved of his inaugural speech as those who disapproved. Langer: “It’s the first time he’s been significantly more strongly popular than unpopular since early 2010.”

The polarization of the American populace has not disappeared, however: The president remains highly popular within his own party, with 92 percent favorability. And it’s noteworthy that 60 percent of independents see him favorably, also a best since his first year in office. He remains unpopular among 80 percent of Republicans.

See the full results of the poll, a survey of 1,022 adults conducted Jan. 23-27, with a possible margin of error of 3.5 percentage points, here.

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