Donald Trump’s presidency has only just begun, yet everyone in the media seems obsessed with talking about his approval ratings. Meanwhile, they point to former President Barack Obama’s high exit ratings as proof that the former president was a success.
Those numbers don’t speak to the totality of the Obama administration, however. Gallup, one of America’s top polling organizations, just calculated Obama’s average approval rating over his eight years in office. When they saw the statistics, however, they weren’t rushing to release them.
Why, you may ask? Well, they told a story vastly different from the one the media has been pushing for the past eight years — namely, that Obama is one of our most beloved presidents.
According to the Gallup survey, Obama averaged a 47.9 percent approval rating over his eight years in office. That’s lower than Richard Nixon (whose approval numbers were so small before his 1974 resignation that they needed to be measured with an electron microscope) and George W. Bush, whose approval ratings often hovered around 25 percent during the nadir of the Iraq War, CNS News reported.
In fact, only three presidents had average approval ratings lower than Obama’s. Gerald Ford, whose poll numbers tanked after his pardon of Nixon, finished with a 47.2 percent approval rating. Jimmy Carter, plagued by “malaise” and the Iran hostage crisis, finished with 45.5. That’s a tenth of a point above Harry Truman, who remains the only incumbent president to ever lose the New Hampshire primary, at 45.4.
That’s it. Those are the only three presidents whose poll numbers averaged out below Obama’s. And the media still wants to talk about Trump’s poll numbers when he’s barely done anything yet. (And we all know how reliable the polls about him during the primary season were, anyway.)
If you want a look at just how meaningless the first poll on a new president is, look at previous Gallup Polls. US News & World Report points out that Gerald Ford’s approval rating in his first poll as president was 71 percent. Jimmy Carter, the man who would beat him in 1976, saw his first poll top out at 66 percent. Ronald Reagan, the man who would beat Carter four years later, had almost 53 percent, according to Gallup.
Out of those three men, Reagan had by far the lowest approval rating — and he was the only one of the three to win two presidential elections. And while Obama also won re-election, Reagan’s higher average approval rating puts him ahead of Obama by just about every standard there is (except they were both the same height — 6 feet, 1 inch).
The real measure of a president is not how he starts or how he finishes, it’s a matter of what he does in the time in between. The Obama years clearly have not been as good for America as we’ve been told they’ve been.
And while Trump may be controversial now, it’s what he does for the “forgotten Americans” he talked about in his inaugural address that will determine where he falls along that spectrum.
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