Sunday, February 06, 2011


All this could change if the economy keeps improving and if there is a significant drop in the unemployment rate.

By Davud Gardber

Mail Online
February 5, 2011

Barack Obama was swept into power on a wave of optimism over his promise to bring America together in a new spirit of unity.

But a new poll has revealed that he divided the country down the middle more than any other second-year US president in more than half a century.

Astonishingly, Mr Obama’s second year in office was even more polarising than his White House predecessor George Bush.

Critics blamed Mr Obama’s determination to push through healthcare reforms and his administration’s big spending attempts to dig the US out of the financial crisis as two of the biggest issues that have split American opinion.

According to figures released by Gallup, Mr Obama’s popularity in 2010 was even more polarised than they were during his first year, measuring a 68-point gap between the percentage of Democrats and Republicans that approve of the president.

An average of 81 per cent of Democrats approved of the job Mr Obama was doing last year, compared to just 13 per cent of Republicans.

The 68-point divide is up from a 65-point gap in 2009, which was also a record for a first- year president.

Despite all his talk of bringing America’s two main political parties closer together, Mr Obama’s rock bottom 13 per cent approval from Republicans is easily the lowest percentage of support from an opposing party for any president in his second year.

The next largest gap for a president in his sophomore year was in 1982, when Ronald Reagan had an approval rating of 79 per cent among Republicans and 23 per cent from Democrats, a divide of 56 points.

Although George Bush endured three years with larger gaps in party ratings - including 2004 when Gallup measured a 76-point gap - he was still more popular during the first two years, mainly because he won more support from both parties in the aftermath of 9/11.

But experts said the split isn’t necessarily a bad thing for Mr Obama heading into the elections in 2012.

Three former presidents - George Bush, Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan - all won re-election after having large gaps in party popularity ratings.

The president has redoubled his efforts in recent months to work with congressional Republicans, such as on the deal to extend the Bush-era income tax cuts.

These efforts are widely thought to have fuelled a rise in his approval ratings, from 44 per cent in mid-November to 50 per cent in the most recent weekly average.

But the rise in Mr Obama's public support has not necessarily meant a reduction in the polarisation of views about him, as there continues to be a nearly 70-point gap between his Democratic and Republican approval ratings.

No comments: