In a new interview with ABC, President Obama concedes that the disastrous rollout of Obamacare has taken a toll on his approval ratings. But he believes the public’s opinion of his work will rise again. “I’ve gone up and down pretty much consistently throughout,” Obama said. “But the good thing about when you’re down is that usually you got nowhere to go but up.”
That certainly sounds comforting for the president and his supporters. But is it true? Actually, there’s no reason Obama’s approval ratings might not continue to slide. In fact, for more than a year, Obama’s ratings have been roughly tracking those of his predecessor, George W. Bush, at the same point in Bush’s presidency. (You can track the ratings together at the Gallup Presidential Approval site.)
It’s impossible to compare Bush’s first-term ratings with Obama because Bush’s approval was skewed so dramatically by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Bush’s approval soared to 87 percent in Gallup in October 2001, and then began a long decline. Obama’s presidency began with an impressive peacetime high of 65 percent. But at that point in each man’s presidency, the numbers just can’t be compared.
Beginning about May 2012, though, the two presidents’ approval ratings began to roughly converge. In the second week of that month, Obama’s Gallup rating hit 47 percent, while Bush’s had been 47 percent in May 2004, the same point in his presidency. In June of ’12, the ratings stayed within a couple of points of each other. In late summer 2012, Obama’s ratings actually fell below Bush’s late summer ’04 ratings, Obama at 45 percent to Bush’s 49 percent.