February 8, 2012

THREE WEEKS TO ELECTION DAY:

Where the U.S. Election Stands Now: A review of key indicators that could help determine the outcome (Frank Newport, Jeffrey M. Jones, and Lydia Saad, 2/06/12, Gallup)

Obama's job approval rating in Gallup Daily tracking is at 46% for the week ending Feb. 5. His weekly approval ratings have remained at the 45% to 46% level each week so far this year. Obama's current job approval rating in Gallup's tracking is below the historical threshold of winning incumbents, although it has shown marked improvement in recent months, after matching his term-low 40% weekly average in October. Obama's three-day job approval rating reached 47% in Gallup tracking at one point in January. Additionally, although Gallup did not conduct Daily tracking interviews Feb. 3-4, a separate Gallup poll conducted Feb. 2-5 found 50% of Americans approving of Obama, suggesting the president may have received an approval bounce after Friday's jobs report. These results indicate that Obama is generally not far from reaching a job approval situation more conducive to his re-election.

The three presidents since World War II who were not re-elected -- Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and George H.W. Bush -- all had job approval ratings below 50% in the last Gallup measure before the election took place. Five presidents who won re-election -- Dwight Eisenhower, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and Bill Clinton -- all had job approval ratings above 50% in the last Gallup poll before the election. Two presidents were re-elected with sub-50% approval ratings. George W. Bush had 48% approval in October 2004 among national adults. Harry Truman's final Gallup job approval rating in 1948 was 40%, but that was from a poll conducted nearly five months before Election Day, making it unclear precisely what Truman's level of support was at the time of the election.

This historical pattern suggests that Obama would need to see his job approval rating climb to 50% to be in a comfortable position for re-election. History shows that by March of the election year, all winning presidents in the modern era, including George W. Bush, had job approval ratings above 50%, and all losing presidents had job approval ratings below 50%. This suggests that where Obama stands by next month may be an important indicator of his ultimate re-election chances.
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Posted by at February 8, 2012 5:40 PM
  

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