How Does Obama Compare to Past Presidents?

White House - IllustrationBarack Obama has been President now for a little over nine quarters (2 1/4 years).

At the end of Obama's first quarter in office (Jan 20-Apr 19 2009), he had an approval rating of 63%.

At the end of Obama's second quarter in office (Apr 20-Jul 19 2009), he had an approval rating of 62%. The country was still in the midst of an economic crisis at the time, but people were still largely behind Obama.

After Obama's second quarter in office, his approval rating started to drop quickly.

After posting approval ratings of 63% and 62% during his first two quarters in office, his numbers dropped to 52.9% after his third quarter in office and 50.8% after his fourth quarter.

In 2010, Obama's approval numbers continued to erode further as his "honeymoon period" came to an end:

5th Quarter - 48.8%
6th Quarter - 47.3%
7th Quarter - 44.7%
8th Quarter - 46.0%

After the most recent quarter (Jan 20-Apr 19th 2011), Obama had an approval rating of 46.7%. - Barack Obama Job Approval - Q1 - Q9 recently posted an interesting comparison of Barack Obama's current approval numbers versus the approval numbers of recent US presidents at the same point in their Presidencies (Nine quarters in office).

Here is the breakdown, from Eisenhower to Obama:

Eisenhower - 70%
Kennedy - 67.7%
Nixon - 49.3%
Carter - 41.2%
Reagan - 38.8%
G.H.W. Bush - 82.7%
Clinton - 45.7%
G.W. Bush - 63.3%
Obama - 46.7%

It should be noted that George H.W. Bush's popularity soared during his ninth quarter in office thanks to the United States' win in the Persian Gulf War.

A few more of these numbers might jump out at you. Ronald Reagan, who would end up becoming one of the most popular Presidents in the history of the country, had an approval rating of just 38.8% at the end of his ninth quarter in office.

The national unemployment rate in April of 1983 was still over 10% (10.2% to be exact). The economy was in the beginning stages of a dramatic recovery - a recovery that would help to lift Reagan's approval rating and earn him an easy victory in the 1984 Presidential election.

President Clinton's approval rating was also quite low at the end of his ninth quarter in office. Like Reagan, Clinton's approval rating dramatically improved thanks to a sustained economic boom.


According to, the 10th quarter could be very telling when it comes to Obama's re-election chances in 2012.

Both Clinton and Reagan saw "significant improvement" in their approval ratings during their tenth quarters in office. Carter, on the other hand, saw his approval rating drop during the same time period. Clinton and Reagan both won second terms, while Carter was defeated by Ronald Reagan.

Source: - Obama Averages 46.7% Job Approval in Ninth Quarter

Filed under: General Knowledge

Related Articles