Despite a strong showing during the lame-duck session of Congress, President Obama closes out his second year in office with a slightly lower approval rating than at the end of 2009, according to a Gallup tracking poll released Thursday.
The poll found that the president's approval rating was 47%, down slightly from his post-midterm-election peak of 49% but close to his average of 46% during that period. During the week between Christmas 2009 and New Year's Day, Obama's approval rating ranged from 51% to 53%.
Obama's standing is better than two recent presidents who went on to win reelection. At comparable points during their presidencies, Bill Clinton had a 40% approval rating and Ronald Reagan had a 43% rating. Two one-term presidents, Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush, stood at 51% and 63%, respectively. George W. Bush finished his sophomore year at 61%.
Even though the political precedents are cloudy, it is a surprise that Obama's rating has remained relatively stable in the weeks since the electoral shellacking that turned control of the House of Representatives over to the GOP, and the post-election session of Congress. It was during that session that Obama negotiated a deal with Republicans to extend the George W. Bush-era tax cuts, got Senate ratification of an arms treaty with Russia and helped successfully lobby for repeal of the law that barred gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military.
Many of the measures passed during the lame-duck session were supported by a plurality or, in some cases, a majority of voters, according to recent Gallup polls.
The tracking poll results are based on telephone interviews with 1,531 adults between Dec. 26 and Dec. 28. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.