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Obama's First 90 Days In (Polling) Perspective

New data out of the indispensable Gallup polling organization shows that President Obama's average job approval during his first 90 days in office is 63 percent, the highest rating in its surveys during that critical time period in more than three decades.

Since Jimmy Carter scored an average of 69 percent approval rating in his first 90 days in office, the ratings for the subsequent presidents have steadily declined from Ronald Reagan (60 percent), to George H.W. Bush (57 percent), to Bill Clinton (55 percent). George W. Bush's 58 percent average in the Gallup poll for his first quarter in office was only a slight improvement over his direct predecessors.

Put in a broader perspective -- all president since World War II -- Obama's numbers are slightly less stratospheric.

John F. Kennedy led the way in the modern era with the approval of 72 percent of Americans during his first 90 days in office and Dwight D. Eisenhower also crested the 70 percent mark (71 percent) during his early days in office. Heck, even Richard Nixon was at 62 percent job approval in the Gallup survey in his first quarter in office.

What should we take from these numbers?

First and foremost, context matters.

Although Carter went on to be a one-term president, his first 90 days in office were spent cleansing the American presidency of the damage done to it by Nixon and Watergate. Kennedy was elected on the promise of new beginnings in America and his first days in office featured American falling in love with the idea of Camelot. George W. Bush benefited in the early going of his presidency from the American peoples' discomfort with Clinton's moral shortcomings.

Second, the country has grown far more split along partisan lines over the last three decades as evidenced by the narrowness of the victories of Clinton (never elected with a simple majority of the vote) and Bush. That partisan divide has ensured that most presidents of more recent vintage don't ever approach the polling heights of Kennedy and Eisenhower as there are a solid minority (40 plus percent) of voters who didn't vote for them and aren't willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.

Obama has changed that calculus somewhat with his strong popularity among independent voters and his post-partisan messaging.

"Obama's 63% quarterly average is well above the historical norm for all approval ratings, regardless of presidential quarter," write Gallup's Jeffrey Jones. "It ranks in the 74th percentile of all presidential quarters since 1945, and is significantly better than the 54% average rating for all presidential quarters."

How long can Obama's honeymoon last? And how much can he get done before it ends?

If you know the answer to those two questions, you likely know which side picks up seats in the 2010 midterm elections.

By Chris Cillizza  |  April 17, 2009; 11:36 AM ET
Categories:  Parsing the Polls  
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TO: President Obama, VP Biden, Obama Cabinet Secretaries

"When you see the abuse of power, you've got to speak."

-- VP Joe Biden

Extra-legal programs and policies of the Bush-Cheney era continue on...

...endangering our democracy and subverting your presidency.


Google it.

Any American -- YOU, or someone close to you -- could be its next victim.

Unless Team Obama -- especially AG Holder, SecDef Gates, SecDHS Napolitano, SecTreas Geithner -- take down the draconian Bush-Cheney extra-legal "torture matrix..." array of secret, extrajudicial "programs of personal financial destruction" and government-funded vigilante, terroristic "community stalking"...

...coupled with the proliferation of mind- and body-degrading "directed energy" microwave radiation weapons -- the Zyklon B of a grassroots, government-enabled American Gestapo that continues to "target" untold thousands, if not millions, of U.S. citizens...

...citizens who have not been charged with any crime, but who have been condemned by a covert American Gestapo to a life of "community gang-stalking" and physical degradation...

...tracked with covert GPS devices over a network known to EVERY police force in the nation -- and to federal security, military and intelligence operatives.

Attorney General Holder, you must act NOW to restore human and civil rights in America.

Before the naivete of liberals empowers the saboteurs and Dr. Strangeloves who say "No!" to change.

OR (if links are corrupted/ disabled):

Posted by: scrivener50 | April 19, 2009 10:04 PM | Report abuse

Brilliant of Zucker to run off the best guy they had (Ratigan) and complain to the staff of one of his only successful (currently)operations. His timing is not good..

Posted by: newbeeboy | April 19, 2009 7:59 AM | Report abuse

Correction: Jeff Zucker should have been listed as a winner, major winner...The onair CNBC talent he chastised were the losers.

Posted by: broadwayjoe | April 18, 2009 6:51 PM | Report abuse

Obama seems to have trouble extracting wonks and geeks from the lucrative private sector. I still think that his skin tone hurts his overall polling (inherited).

Posted by: newbeeboy | April 18, 2009 4:36 PM | Report abuse

BTW, Susan Roesgen is the name of the courageous CNN reporter whose interviews of the tea baggers exposed them as bigoted loons.

I hope she gets hardship leave for having to deal with those Anti-american lunatics who screamed BHO-is-a-fascist talking points at her.

As far as I know, Mrs. Roesgen was the only reporter from a MSM outlet to take on these bigots.

Link to her great performance--incredible:

Posted by: broadwayjoe | April 18, 2009 12:21 PM | Report abuse

I think Gallup's got BHO's approvals a bit low.

Daily Kos has "44" at 68%, this is about where he's been for the last few months despite non-stop pounding by Fox News and hate radio, and foolish corporate-funded anti-BHO stunts like the "Tea Parties."

My ground-level polling has BHO at about 85 to be honest (as we know, the polls severely undercount minorities, young people, cell phone users, and folks who don't want to be bothered). Seriously, I have not spoken to one person who voted for BHO in November who wouldn't vote for him again.



Raul C and Hugo C (helping BHO forge a sane policy for the Hemisphere, buena suerte, 'manos)

Jeanane Garofalo (for calling the "Tea Parties" out as follows: "Let’s be very honest about what this is about. This is not about bashing Democrats. It’s not about taxes. They have no idea what the Boston Tea party was about. They don’t know their history at all. It’s about hating a black man in the White House.”

Mrs. William Jefferson Clinton (for putting away her (alleged) 585-page enemies list and hard feelings, and joining, with a fresh set of pantsuits, BHO's fight for freedom--welcome onbard, Madame Secretary)

DHS's Janet Napolitano (for calling out the creepazoid hate groups who plan to recruit resentful veterans coming home from Irag only to find no jobs/JNap, keep ferretting out these bigoted cockroaches who try to exploit our troops)

That female CNN reporter who interviewed sleezoid thugs at the Tea Party and exposed them as fools--she was so good, in fact, Greta and Fox News devoted about 15 minutes to trash her--she was THAT good)

"Penitentiary III" (Leon Isaac Kennedy's timeless classic about boxing in our federal correctional institutions)



The Tea Baggers

Anyone who covered tea baggers as anything other than a bunch of hate rallies

Fox News (for organzing, sponsoring, and endlessly promoting these Kla- er, "spontaneous grassroots" events)

Cavuto (for allegedly being told 5000 were at a teabagging, and then telling the TV audience there were 15,000 attendees)

Newt (for blowing up like a red balloon on George Stephanopolous's show when George talked about the Obama kids and their new dog--Neutron, hate is not a family value--ugly stuff)

CNBC's Jeff Zucker (for allegedly having a "come to Jesus" meeting with his onair talent and telling them to cut out the daily unhinged BHO hate fests; this ain't FOX!)--major shout out to JZuck

"MASH" reruns (unwatchable)

Fake Agent Larry Moss (he should have listened to Jack in the first place)

Posted by: broadwayjoe | April 18, 2009 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Which party is going to win in 2010?

Well the good money say's it name doesn't begin with "R"...

Posted by: theamazingjex | April 18, 2009 10:51 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: scrivener50 | April 18, 2009 4:55 AM | Report abuse

Who gets to participate in these Polls? I've never met anyone who has been called to answer one. I guess if they call 10 people, friends and relatives, and 6.3 of them like him, he'll get a 63% rating. Good going BO.

Posted by: thecat3 | April 18, 2009 1:27 AM | Report abuse

Obama's Rasmussen Poll #'s Go Negative Tomorrow, IMO

His approval index was down to a measly +2 last week- and the TEA Parties couldn't have helped any, rather they poked a hole in the "everybody loves Barack" nonsense.

The vast majority of Americans DON'T want a massive government sector and all the weird totalitarian schemes Barack has up his sleeve- and now the ones who had given him the benefit of the doubt are starting to figure out just what he's up to... and they don't like it.

Obama can expect SERIOUS resistance from this point-on... because what he's doing both at-home and abroad is resolutely anti-American.

Now all you paid-drones from Plouffe's internet squadrons can attack me, LOL.

-Rasmussen should be interesting tomorrow-

Posted by: ReaganiteRepublican | April 17, 2009 8:05 PM | Report abuse

"Dick Morris, who is the most astute..."

This is funny even without knowing the end of the sentence.

Posted by: DDAWD | April 17, 2009 7:00 PM | Report abuse

Nice Democrap Socialist Party--spin control Chris. Using "90 day averages", rather than what Bozo Obama's poll numbers actually are, and where they're heading, is misleading.
Dick Morris, who is the most astute expert on politics and politicians, reported on last nights Hannity Show that Bozo Obama has been losing ground steadily since his 66% approval poll when he got crowned, which is about the same as was President GWB's. Yesterday, Bozo the Clown was 55%. With the Clown still in his honeymoon period, and with a Democrap Socialist Party--controlled Main Stream Media censoring all political bad-news for him and acting as Obama's gatekeepers, the fact that the Clowns poll numbers have dropped 11% in under 90 days anyway, is a good indication where he'll be at by the mid-term elections, when his Marxist ideas kick in. By the way, those poll numbers are Rassmussens too.

Posted by: armpeg | April 17, 2009 5:55 PM | Report abuse

yeah newbeeboy - recent press is that the prez should stop using that word...
repulsives are getting mad.

tee hee
and i expect alot of fall out now because of the announcement of the Auto Czar being investigated.

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | April 17, 2009 4:22 PM | Report abuse

He inherited all the things that are keeping him below 85%.

Posted by: newbeeboy | April 17, 2009 4:13 PM | Report abuse

global poverty is not solely america's problem.

the political parties are a joke.
everyone is turning independent or no party affiliation at all...
it's not worth it any longer..

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | April 17, 2009 2:56 PM | Report abuse

I'm glad his ratings are so high, hopefully he'll continue to make use of that social capital and can turn it into political force; force to turn this economy around and actually focus on solving the deeper, systemic issues for why we're in this situation. Obviously bad banking's a good place to start, but there are other issues, like global poverty, that have huge economic and geopolitical ramifications.

The Borgen Project ( has some interesting insight into addressing the issues of global poverty, something we can remedy easily and sustainably.

Some interesting figures to ponder:
$30 billion USD: The annual shortfall to end global poverty.
$550 billion USD: The annual US defense budget.

Posted by: concernedcitizen1111 | April 17, 2009 2:30 PM | Report abuse

sorry, make that 49.6% voted for Nixon...Kennedy got 49.7.

Posted by: gezi | April 17, 2009 2:14 PM | Report abuse

Uhh...Kennedy was a minority president too. 49.6% of the population voted against him.

I agree that the country is more polarized, but your evidence for this clearly doesn't fly.

Posted by: gezi | April 17, 2009 2:13 PM | Report abuse

"Second, the country has grown far more split along partisan lines over the last three decades as evidenced by the narrowness of the victories of Clinton (never elected with a simple majority of the vote) and Bush."

Say what? The last numbers I saw showed the number of those with no party affiliation, i.e. independents growing not shrinking. There has been some geographical realignment with socially conservative Southern Democrats becoming socially conservative Southern Republicans and Northeastern Rockefeller Republicans becoming Democrats so their is a more of a regional feel to the parties, but the country is still by and large non partisan. The partisans definitely have bigger microphones than they used to so the country certainly feels more partisan, but when you look at the numbers it's just not so.

Who makes out better in 2010 will depend heavily on how things are going and whether or not the GOP decides to start courting the middle. If the GOP continues to oppose everything Obama does, while offering little more than deficits bad, tax cuts good, then even if the economy is still in the tank the DNC can blame everything on GOP obstructionism and will likely pick up more seats (more or less along the lines of the GOP in 2002). IMO The wild card in all of this are the areas where President Obama wants to cut spending, especially those proposed by Secretary Gates, and public backing of private school loans. While considered DOA by most of Congress/the DC establishment, my best guess is that they are popular across party lines out in the real world. If Congress is successful at preventing these cuts even Democrats may find themselves facing the wrath of those supporting Obama.

Posted by: foxn | April 17, 2009 2:09 PM | Report abuse




My comment written for this "Fix" blog entry, with the above headline, once again has elicited the "held for blog owner" message. I believe this message emanated from a government-administered surveillance "fusion center" and NOT from The Washington Post. Wa-Po webmeisters can easily can confirm whether or not that is the case.

This apparent blatant censorship of my political speech -- which would involve what I deem an unreasonable search and seizure of my computer communications -- underscores the dilemma I discussed in the "held for blog owner" post:

The Obama administration, in my opinion, still has not secured its hold on power, and faces grave (and possibly, treasonous) resistance from within.

I am posting my full commentary to my blog site,, under the "Gestapo USA" article (for reasons which should be obvious).

Chris, this affects the constitutional rights of The Washington Post as much as it affects the rights of any single individual. I wish you would address these subjects in your blog entries -- because without our constitutionally protected rights, political journalism becomes nothing more than a sock puppet show.

http://NowPublic/com/scrivener RE: "Gestapo USA"

Posted by: scrivener50 | April 17, 2009 2:04 PM | Report abuse

"Second, the country has grown far more split along partisan lines over the last three decades as evidenced by the narrowness of the victories of Clinton (never elected with a simple majority of the vote) and Bush."

Chris, as a reader I have been very tolerant of your obvious bias, but you have developed a pronounced habit of giving your readers history lessons like the one above. You are more than willing to define and describe former presidents, right up until Bush, at which point you quit.

Last week it was Carter (pessimist), Reagan (optimist), Clinton (d*ck), and Bush.

You're a lazy, coward of a writer who refuses to connect all the dots up to Obama.

(But hey as long as I keep reading, right?)

Posted by: KobayashiMaru | April 17, 2009 1:02 PM | Report abuse

How are Clinton's plurality victories an example of an increase in partisanship? They were caused by the presence of a popular third party, so if anything they're less partisan! I agree that people are more partisan now, but I just don't see the connection

Posted by: thecorinthian | April 17, 2009 12:47 PM | Report abuse

This tells me that 37 percent of this country are wackos who believe anything that talk-show synchophants tell them and will wear tinfoil hats, bubble wrap, bury guns in the ground in nonbiodegradable plastic tubing, and believe that homosexuals are around every corner!

Posted by: bs2004 | April 17, 2009 12:31 PM | Report abuse

rome wasn't built in a day.
and the USA economy tanked within 8 years (as documented) -
you think quantifiable results will be evident overnight after that long of abuse?
Don't even expect it by 9-30-09.

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | April 17, 2009 12:19 PM | Report abuse

I just want results.

Posted by: Consoliere | April 17, 2009 12:05 PM | Report abuse

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