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Gallup: Obama’s average approval rating among the worst in modern American history

Former President Barack Obama left office last week with an average approval rating that falls among the lowest of any modern American president. According to polling agency Gallup, Obama left office with a final average approval rating of 47.9 percent, just ninth-best of the 12 post-World War II presidents. Only former Presidents Harry Truman, Jimmy Cater and Gerald Ford had lower averages than Obama. That means that Bill Clinton, who was infamously impeached by the House in the latter stages of his second term, and Richard Nixon, who infamously resigned following the Watergate scandal, left office with higher average approvals than Obama. According to Gallup, former President John F. Kennedy, who was assassinated in Dallas in 1963, had the highest average approval rating of any post-WWII president when he died at 70.1 percent. Dwight Eisenhower and George H.W. Bush left office with approval ratings averages of greater than 60 percent, while Clinton, Lyndon Johnson and Ronald Reagan left with a majority approval from Americans. Former President George W. Bush left office with an average approval rating of 49.4 percent, besting Obama by a point and a half, while Nixon resigned with a 49 percent average approval. During his time in the White House, Obama never had high approval ratings, but he didn’t have extremely low ratings either, Gallup notes. The times when Obama’s approval fell to the lowest — 38 percent — were in 2011 when the U.S. credit rating was downgraded and in 2014 when the Islamic State released videos of Americans being beheaded. His lackluster support may to some degree reflect his governing in a time of consistently low satisfaction with the state of the nation, low trust in government and diminished confidence in major U.S. institutions. It may also reflect some of his policies, most notably the divisive Affordable Care Act and his attempt to use executive orders to advance his immigration policy, something he was unable to accomplish through the legislative process. Still, despite his “lackluster” ratings, Gallup predicted that Obama would go down as one of America’s better-loved presidents as he ended his second term with one of the highest approval ratings of his tenure, 59 percent.

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