Washington: US President Barack Obama's job approval rating has dipped below the 50 percent mark, the first time after he was sworn in January this year.
The latest Gallup Daily tracking results, released yesterday said that 49 percent of Americans approve of the job Obama is doing as the President, putting him below the majority approval level for the first time in his presidency.
Gallup said the ongoing, contentious debate over national healthcare reform and the continued economic crisis are the possible reasons for the drop in his popularity ratings.
Although the current decline below 50 percent has symbolic significance, most of the recent decline in support for Obama occurred in July and August.
He began July at 60 percent approval.
Of the post-World War II presidents, Obama is the fourth fastest to drop below the majority approval level, doing so in his 10th month on the job.
Gerald Ford dropped below 50 percent approval during his third month in office, and Bill Clinton did so in his fourth month.
Ronald Reagan, like Obama, also dropped below 50 percent in his 10th month in office, though Reagan's drop occurred a few days sooner in that month (November 13 to 16, 1981) than did Obama's (November 17 to 19, 2009). "I am not surprised by the demise here because the expectations I think were really unrealistic," veteran pollster, Syracuse University's Jeffrey Stonecash, told the Politico.
"He has huge problems trying to get this morass of the Democratic Party to move and to work to accomplish what he wants. The longer [health care] drags out the more his ratings are going to go down," he said, adding that he sees no improvement in the job approval rating before the economy approves.
Gallup said Obama's descent below 50 percent is an important symbolic milestone in his presidency, but history suggests the odds of his regaining majority approval are high, and he could do so relatively soon, particularly since the individual nightly numbers for him in recent days have been right around the 50 percent mark.
History would suggest his current loss of majority approval bears little relation to his chances of being elected to a second term in 2012, it said.
First Published: Saturday, November 21, 2009, 12:50