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A year in, Obama splits the country almost exactly in two; and nearly half now say he's too liberal


A week from the first anniversary of his twice taking the presidential oath of office with a promise of change and renewed national unity, Barack Obama has split the country.

It's pretty much an even split, too.

Forty-eight percent of Americans consider the Democrat's presidency a failure so far; 47% call it a success.

On Nov. 4, 2008, Americans gave Obama and what's-his-name-the-long-serving-Delaware-senator nearly 68% of the nation's electoral votes. They gave them 56% of the states and nearly 53% of the popular vote. (Not to mention overwhelming control of both houses of Congress.)

Two weeks into his new job, Obama's job approval rating was at its peak -- 76%.

Since then, as he's faced economic challenges, a disappointing economic stimulus program, stubbornly high unemployment and the controversies surrounding his....

...relentless rhetoric and drive for a healthcare bill, with a couple of monthly exceptions Obama's approval has been trending downward -- 67%, 64%, 66%, 63%, 62%, 61%, 56%, 53%, 58%, 55% and 55% just before Thanksgiving.  

His worst standing -- 48% -- came in early December during the heated congressional healthcare debate but before the blessedly botched bombing of a U.S. airliner on Christmas Day.

A new CNN/Opinion Research Poll of 1,021 adult Americans out this afternoon finds that after 357 days in the Oval Office, a bare majority -- 51% -- approve of Obama's job performance, down 3 points from December. Those who disapprove now stand at 48%, up four points from December.

Every president claims they don't watch the polls; right, and the Detroit Lions still have a Super Bowl shot.

But presidential allies and opponents do watch the polls, very closely, to see which way the winds are blowing on which issue and to take their own advantage or political cover from whatever breezes are detectable, especially in this crucial midterm election year that has already seen one Democratic representative switch to the GOP side.

Well, Obama's "strongly approve" numbers have been fading, now at 26%, down from 40% a year ago. While his "strongly disapprove" numbers have been growing, now at 36%, up from 19%.

CNN polling director Keating Holland notes the economy rates No. 1 by far on the American mind now (though terrorism and the deficit are creeping up). Hence Obama's post-holiday attention to jobs and evil bankers. There's work to do; Holland notes a majority of Americans disapprove of Obama's job performance on every economic issue tested.

"Only 44% approve of how Obama is handling the economy," Holland reports. "Just 4 in 10 give him a thumbs-up on healthcare and his approval rating on the federal deficit has plunged to 36%. Those are three of the four most important issues on the public's mind today."

And with economic and deficit concerns on the public's mind, Holland offers an ominous warning to the Obama White House. "The president's ratings also suffer from the growing perception that he is too liberal -- 46% feel that way today, up 10 points from March."

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: Pete Souza / White House

Comments () | Archives (28)

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Not to bad for a guy that inherited divisive situations ... Three wars, bankrupt banking system, diplomatic disaster, toxic enviornment, exploding healthcare system ... what more do you want. These are not unifying issues.
Like you said ... he took 53% of the popular vote. Today he has 48% of the popular vote. Not bad when you think about what the President is cleaning up and restoring our leadership around the world.

Your comments is very informative.
I like it very much. Keep up the good work.


Obama promised health care debates on C-Span, and that was just a lie. He blames Bush for everything like a broken record. He attacks the opposition press like Fox News, and sometimes acts like a 2-year old (or petty tyrant). He focuses on the wrong priorities (like health care "reform" over jobs). He allows (and encourages) senators to make back-room deals and legislative bribes favoring one state over another. He treats terrorists like common criminals and may let the mastermind of 9/11 free. He promised no new taxes for the middle class, and the list goes on. Obama is dishonest and incompetent.

How's that for "Hope" and "Change"? He has split the country in two. I can't stand the guy, and more and more people are seeing through this fraud everyday.

President Obama has been nothing short of a disappointment. I will be looking for change in 2010 and 2012

We've got the equivalent of Paris Hilton in the White House. People are waking up to the reality that they were conned by a slick saleman - they voted for a slogan, not an experienced, capable leader.

Gordon, he didn't "inherit" these problems... he fought for the right to preside over them, he begged for that right, he spent hundreds of millions of dollars for that right... And now all he seems to do is complain about how hard it is while you help makes excuses for him.

If the man has any core principles, he needs to call on them now because the continued "the economy was worse them we thought" but "you can trust us on healthcare because we're smarter than you" line of reasoning is not working... unless you're already a believer...

Obama has botched every single thing he's done. Worst President ever. What a disaster.

I would like to see a poll on what the far left media types now think of their hero.


Nice try but he doesn't have 48% of the popular vote, he has a 48% APPROVAL RATING. Since he started at a 78% approval rating this is a significant drop and very bad indeed.

The mentally challenged really shouldn't be allowed to vote.

Yeah, well he's got a well oiled professional propaganda machine working to make the low information voter serve the interests of power. Fox News got George Bush elected President. Without Fox, I seriously doubt he would have won Florida by less than five hundred votes and might have been responsible for what history will show was the beginning of America's decline.

It may be that Rupert Murdoch was the worst thing that ever happened to this country.

Oh. It's all Bush's fault yet. Ok. Uh huh. If only maybe the guy wasn't so white, maybe...?
The libbies had absolutely, positively nothing at all to do with the status of our current health care, educational, economic, banking, etc., mess today.

NO! Uh uh!

Who runs wall street? Maddow (sp). people. You stanky libbiess........ This Obama show, so far, is turning out to be nothing but total entertaining than even I predicted.

Global warming wishes to all too. BBBBBRRRRRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

People need to think for themselves and stop believing what Foxnews tells them. Obama is not Liberal enough for my taste. It was the conservative agenda the us attacked on 9/11, blew it with Katrina, lost $12 trillion in our wealth last year, blew the budget with unfunded and paid for tax cuts and prescription drug plan that cost 1 trillion and you people out there judging this President are likely responsible for helping elect Bush which is clearly the Alpha & Omega of ALL our problems. Grow a set and stop behaving & thinking as if your as ignorant as Sara should all be so embarrassed?? President Obama needs our support. The same people the insisted the Bush needed our undying & unwavering support again and again and Obama isn't even getting fact based debate to argue with is what i find disgusting. Read the Huffington Post, New York Times, pay attention to resent history and compare what is fair and balanced and stop being completely unrealistic about change. Change the channel from the fraud that is called news over at Murdock's spin Empire and apply some common sense before acting like a bunch of brainless sheep again... COME ON!

"think about what the President is cleaning up and restoring our leadership around the world."

Cleaning up? LOL. Puh-lease. Bush inherited a recession as well, and yet you didn't see him blame Clinton.

Restoring our leadership around the world? How? By caving into the Russians and leaving Poland to fend for itself? What leadership?

Sorry... speaches do not make a leader. Actions do.

Tripling the deficit in 1st year.
Tripling the debt in 10 years.
Adding more to the deficit than ALL previous presidents COMBINED.
Bowing to dictators.
Caving to Russia for.... for.... for nothing.
Watching as Iran builds a bomb.
Cannot "lead" to get more sanctions for Iran.
Got nothing in Copenhagen. Nothing. (What a leader!)
The middle east still hates us (duh).
Broken promises left and right...
No debates on C-Span as promised.
No openness.
No transparency.
Keeping visitors secret (just like Bush).
Barring any Repub input -- not even meeting with them.
Bribing Senators for votes.
Pushing a HC bill that almost 60% of Americans DO NOT WANT.
LOWEST APPROVRAL rating for any president at this time in office in HISTORY.
Disapproval ratings that MATCH Bush's WORST.

Yeah.. that's leadership. LOL.

"Not to bad for a guy that inherited divisive situations ... Three wars, bankrupt banking system, diplomatic disaster, toxic enviornment, exploding healthcare system ... what more do you want. These are not unifying issues.
Like you said ... he took 53% of the popular vote. Today he has 48% of the popular vote. Not bad when you think about what the President is cleaning up and restoring our leadership around the world."

keep telling youirself that lefty...keep telling yourself that. The only ones who are buying it are you morons on the far left

I wonder what the numbers would be if they had instead asked the question: Do you think that President Obama is too conservative? I have no doubt in my mind that the positive response to that question would have increased by more than 10% since March, too.

Then what's the bottom line? Obama himself is successfully riding the middle. As far as the party goes, I think they are bound to lose seats in November, but they will retain their majorities. The reason is simple: many congressional Democrats are also perceived as having become "too conservative" for their districts, based on having caved on single-payer health care. Many of those will be replaced, but not by a Republican. Depends on the district, as always.

Americans are coming to realize that all that smooth talk does not a leader make.

It is also clear that he has not surrounded himself with many wise advisors. Take the stimulus as an example.

As of the end of 2009, about ONE-THIRD of the $787 billion economic recovery act — $263 billion — has gone out the door, but Chief economic advisor, Christina Romer, has said that such a leveling off (of economic gain) is typical of stimulus measures, which have their biggest economic bang AT THE OUTSET.
Administration officials have said that the stimulus program is likely to have greater impact on saving or creating jobs this year than it did in 2009.

CNN reports that the Obama administration has given up on its attempt to tally the total number of jobs supposedly saved or created by the $787 billion "stimulus" program.
The government now will only attempt to quantify all jobs funded with stimulus money -- dropping the bogus "saved" category.

It is just as likely that our economy would be in the very same state if there was NO stimulus. The 800 billion dollars was a dubious investment, but a big deficit grower.


Not to bad for a guy that inherited divisive situations ... Three wars, bankrupt banking system, diplomatic disaster, toxic enviornment, exploding healthcare system ... what more do you want. These are not unifying issues.
Like you said ... he took 53% of the popular vote. Today he has 48% of the popular vote. Not bad when you think about what the President is cleaning up and restoring our leadership around the world.

Posted by: GordonSantaMonica | January 12, 2010 at 09:22 PM

Hahaha ... another liberal moron ... it figures ... Hint: The Peoples Republic of Santa Monica. What flavor of Kool-aid is Tom Hayden serving up to you lemmings these days ... it must be tasty.

The only people still supporting this guy must be asleep.

Political novices and drama queens. Simple. See Reagan's "approval" ratings after his 1st year, LOWER than Obama's. As the economy improves so will his #'s and he'll go down as a steady hand, a great president who inherited MASSIVE problems as Dems always do after Republican Administrations.

I love the "Worst President" ever comments. REALLY LOL After 1 year where my 401K is worth 40% more than it was when Bush left office? The economy is stabilizing, etc. The world see's us in a new light. What planet DO YOU live on?

Getting that 60th vote in the Senate was the worst thing that could have happened to Obama. If he'd had to deal with the Republicans, he might have been as good as he says he is at transcending politics. But handed, as he was, a super-majority, he couldn't resist the urge to fall back on his old Chicago strong-arm tactics and become Bush III, another President who does whatever he wants and ignores the public.


Actually, the primary problem isn't Obama. Yeah, he's personally a liberal, but as a pol I think he's a pragmatic deal maker more than an ideological liberal. The primary problem is the radical Left House; they've pulled Obama farther Left and tarnished his rep. The House is why the Dems have lost independent voters and enraged the Right. IMO the best thing that could happen to Obama is if the Reps took back the House. Same as happened to Clinton in 1994 when a lot of really good Centrist legislation got passed. The Reps suck, but one-Party govt sucks waaaaay more.

For the person who thinks that Obama is not liberal enough you should go look at the poll. The CNN poll shows that 46% think he is too liberal up from 42%. Just 10% think he is NOT liberal enough down from 14%.

So your comment saying that those who think he is conservate would be up is all wrong. Once again liberals never check the facts and only state their wishes. Obama is way too liberal and now the American people are seeing the same thing. But hey you keep drinking that cool-aid.

Very little consideration given here to scathing criticism voiced by former
Obama 'comrades' Hugo Chavez & Raoul Castro,to say nothing about Amahdinijad's snubing of Michele's hubby.This only spells trouble for 2010
as large throngs of the misguided leftist rable rousers also prepare to dump
the anointed one.Will ACORN and Soros also turn thumbs down ?

CNN polls are always skewed in favour of dems.Nate Silver ranks them about
25 th out of sme 30 polling outfits for accuracy.Survey USA and Rasmussen
get the highest accuracy marks.Notice how CNN never does a poll of likelor registered voters but only of adults.
My point is that other much more credible polling outfits give an even
bleaker picture of the Obama and dems train wreck.

Too liberal? Are they out of their minds or have they been asleep for the last two years? Obama is profoundly conservative. It's Dick Cheney's third term. Note the following:

Obama's in favor of the Patriot Act tyranny.

Won't have his attorney general go after the Bush-Cheney administration war criminals.

Is following the Bush plan for Iraq.

Is escalating the war in Afghanistan.

Wants to raise the military budget.

Says all the things about the "clean coal" myth that Big Coal wants him to say.

Didn't use the leverage that was available when G.M. and Chrysler needed bailouts to actually force them to start producing nothing but electric cars within a year or two in order to GET the bailout money, nah, he just threw billions at them in a deal built on the backs of the United Auto Workers.

Won't do anything with the Employee Free Choice Act.

Is against allowing gay folks the basic civil right to get married.

Is against ending the failed, fascist "War on Drugs" including being against legalizing even pot.

Plays golf with the chairman of United Bank of Scotland.

Gives speeches to the V.F.W. that sound like they were written by John McCain.

Despite having a Democratic majority in both houses of Congress he gives us a health care "reform" package with no single payer, no public option even and no Medicare buy-in. Instead it enshrines the for-profit health care system and mandates that people who can't afford insurance HAVE to buy junk plans from private insurers. Won't allow drug reimportation from Canada because it would cut into Big Pharma's profits. Basically it is a "reform" bill written in the interests of Big Insurance and Big Pharma.

Gives us a Wall Street "reform" bill that sounds like it was written by Wall Street tycoons and does nothing to prevent their casino-like behavior, also doing nothing to eliminate the concept of banks being "too big to fail". Nope, just business as usual.

Fills his administration with ruling elite pricks from the Council on Foreign Relations, Bilderberg Group, Trilateral Commission and A.I.P.A.C.

Lets the Israelis walk all over him like any American president will.

Won't end "Don't Ask, Don't Tell", instead has his attorney general fight for it to remain enforced.

Doesn't say a damn thing about raising the minimum wage to make it actually approximate a living wage.

Says he admires Reagan.

Has dinner at George Will's house.

Sells out the salmon and polar bears in favor of big business.

Keeps the White House Office of Political Affairs.

Keeps Bush's secretary of defense on the job.

And so on. Face it America: Conservatives are literally all that the billionaire elite will ALLOW you to vote for because conservatives are all that they will fund. Voting in America is like choosing between two brands of dogfood instead of having the option of voting for human food. "But it's Alpo versus Iams! How can you say that's not a choice? See? The cans have a different wrapper and everything!"


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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