The public appears to have made up its mind about President Obama. His job-approval rating in early 2014 averaged 41.5 percentin Gallup surveys. In late 2014 — despite an improving economy — it averaged the same 41.5 percent. Over the past year, his rating has never gone higher than 44 percent and never lower than 41 percent.
And history suggests Obama’s popularity will continue to flounder even if the economy continues to improve.
The past seven presidents who have served a second term have had difficulty changing public opinion. We can see this by comparing their average approval rating at this point in their terms to their final approval rating before the next presidential election.
The average absolute change in job approval for these presidents was just 3.8 percentage points. More to the point, none of the larger changes were positive. Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton saw their approval ratings decline by 11.5 and 8 percentage points, respectively. Bush was hit by the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Clinton, whose approval ratings had skyrocketed during the Monica Lewinsky scandal, was regressing to the mean.