Americans are warming to a president they’re about to lose

You’d have to go back to December 2012 to find a time when President Barack Obama was as popular as he is now, a new Gallup poll shows.

That was just a month after his re-election. The poll then was conducted right after the Sandy Hook massacre.

In the latest survey, Obama enjoys a 57 percent job approval rating, Gallup says. That’s not unusual. Lame-duck presidents usually become more popular in the immediate aftermath of the election to replace them. George Bush’s went up, too, though it was half of Obama’s present rating.


In modern times, Obama trails only Bill Clinton for popularity at this stage of their presidencies. Obama is also tied with Ronald Reagan.

Not mentioned in the poll analysis why we tend to like presidents more when they’re about to leave office.

Related: Obama reckons with a Trump presidency (New Yorker)

President Obama’s Last Stand (Rolling Stone)

  • MrE85

    Thanks for your service, Mr. President. I wish you and your family the best in the years to come.

  • crystals

    My theory on the why, at least with respect to Obama: he sounds and seems so much better than the aspiring presidents we’ve been presented with for the last 18 months.

    No drama Obama in comparison to the reality TV-esque 2016 nomination process and election cycle? Yes, please.

    • rover27

      That’s quite the false equivalency. Both candidates weren’t even equally bad by any stretch and the ugly campaign was one-sided.

      • crystals

        I never said they were equally bad, nor did I say the campaign wasn’t one sided. Not everything is a false equivalency. I can, and do, actually think that both of our presidential candidates were not as good as Barack Obama is AND believe one candidate was significantly more qualified and more presidential than the other. Both things can be true.

  • Rob

    Even though Obama was a disappointment on several fronts, he did a lot of good things and was a calm, capable leader overall. As the incoming kakistocracy rolls on, I expect Obama to look better and better. God, Vishnu, Buddha and Howard the Duck help us all.

    • Mike

      I want to like Obama more than I actually do. I give him credit for a few things (especially restoring diplomatic relations with Cuba and the Iran deal), but he’s mostly represented a triumph of style over substance.

      • Recommended listening from the Westminster Town Hall Forum:

        Presidential historian Timothy Naftali: ‘We Have a New President: Now What?’

        He noted that Obama prevented us from getting into a ground water in Syria, although I recognize lots of people would like us to do just that (because we’re so good at it getting in and getting out), and recognized that some foreign policy problems can’t be solved by the United States. I found that interesting.

        As usual, the historians will need a couple of decades to figure it all out.

        • Mike

          Thanks for the link. I’ll give Obama partial credit on this. True, he refrained from getting us into a ground war in Syria. And for the record, it appeared Hillary Clinton was heading for that if she’d won. But why are we allied with ISIS in Syria anyway? Is denying Russia a port on the Mediterranean really worth greater ISIS influence in the Middle East?

          • Jerry

            Allied with ISIS?

          • [spittake] It’s a little more complicated than that. The Civil War in Syria isn’t just Assad v. ISIS. There are dozens of different groups and the U.S. isn’t aligned with ISIS, except on the usual fake news sites.


          • Mike

            True, it’s complicated, but it seems self-defeating to back the defeat of one dictator (Assad) just to empower people who hold many of the same views as ISIS.

            As if often the case, trying to find a coherent thread in U.S. global militarism is difficult. Besides, we have no problem with dictators when they do our bidding. And our staunch “ally” Saudi Arabia is one of the most repressive countries in the world and funds ISIS.



          • Jerry

            I think there is a special place in hell for all the suffering they have caused for the diplomats who divided the Ottoman Empire after WWI

          • Mike

            I didn’t know the Guardian was a fake news site. Also, let’s not argue semantics. What are the odds that the coalition of groups opposing Assad, which are evidently sympathetic to ISIS if not actually affiliated, is likely to create a pluralistic and democratic society in the wake of the Assad regime’s potential collapse?

          • I’m not going to bother with a discussion on the assertion that the U.S. is aligned with ISIS on the basis of odds over what happens when Assad falls. That’s not semantics; that’s meaning. Sorry. Life’s too short for me to go through such an exercise.

          • Mike

            So is the Guardian article false then? It’s your choice to engage or not, but I would imagine that many Americans would find the question of who exactly we’re allying ourselves with in a distant corner of the world to be of great interest. Remember when Iraq was going to be a wonderful place once we got rid of the evil Saddam Hussein (whom we backed all throughout the 1980s)?

            One thing is for certain: simply taking the declarations of the U.S. government at face value is extremely naive.

            It seems that we’re allowed to criticize past U.S. militarism as illegitimate depending on how distant it is (Vietnam) or who started it (Republican or Democrat). The only logic I can discern here is that it’s bad to criticize U.S. action in Syria because it’s on Obama’s watch.

          • // It seems that we’re allowed to criticize past U.S. militarism as illegitimate depending on how distant it is (Vietnam) or who started it (Republican or Democrat). The only logic I can discern here is that it’s bad to criticize U.S. action in Syria because it’s on Obama’s watch.

            I don’t see how you possibly contend such an absurd conclusion is based on anything resembling logic. The fact you’re criticizing somebody or something shows nobody has stopped you from doing so.

            The fact I’m choosing not to go down the wormhole with you on your original assertion doesn’t mean someone else might not like to and they, too, are certainly free to do so. Or not do so.

          • Mike

            If it’s a choice between going down the wormhole v. drinking the military industrial complex kool-aid, I’ve made my choice and I suppose you’ve made yours.

            It must be a relief to only have to believe the Pentagon and not the Guardian or other fake news.

          • Since I haven’t discussed it with you, you’re reaching your conclusion about what I do or Don’t believe and how I come to believe it or not believe it from a position of near complete ignorance.

            I’m happy for you, though, that you found a link on the Internet that proves your original assertion beyond doubt, however.

          • Mike

            Yes, I found a link to a reputable news source that serves as a good illustration of all the complexity and problems of the situation in Syria, which doesn’t lend itself to simplistic solutions like: US actions good, Russian actions bad.

            I’m sure it’s not the only information out there on that theme, because I’ve read other accounts over the past couple of years, but you can do a Google search as well as I can.

            Don’t be coy: if you think my argument is rubbish, please give us your own instead of refusing to debate. That’s disingenuous, and you know it.

          • // Don’t be coy: if you think my argument is rubbish, please give us your own instead of refusing to debate. That’s disingenuous, and you know it.

            No, I genuinely don’t want to be in the discussion with you on the issue. At the moment, I’m cleaning the house, which I have determined is what I genuinely prefer to be doing.

            Also, please look up the word disingenuous.

          • Mike

            dis•in•gen•u•ous (dĭsˌĭn-jĕnˈyo͞o-əs)►
            adj. Not straightforward or candid

            Yep, I used the word correctly.

          • ” not truly honest or sincere : giving the false appearance of being honest or sincere”

            You’re not understanding the difference beetween what you think and what you know.

            How do you know I’m insincere when I say I do not wish to debate your assertion? You might THINK so, but you don’t know. Only one of us does. So your characterization is incorrect.

            That’ s why I say you’re coming to your conclusion on the basis of ignorance. Because you don’t know. You can’t know.

            So allow me to repeat: I sincerely, honestly, and genuinely am not interested in debating you on your assertion that the United States has aligned itself with ISIS. Beyond that fact, you’re certainly free and allowed to insert the reality of your choice.

          • Rob

            Only a few putzes in the Bush administration thought Iraq would suddenly become all non-sectarian and democratic once Saddam was gone. More thoughtful, level-headed types held no such delusions.

          • Mike

            But plenty bought into the equally false delusion that Iraq represented a threat to the US, including the recent Democratic nominee for president.

          • Rob

            Obama was never deluded; he was always opposed to the intervention. I voted for Hillary, but she clearly had tons of baggage. From my perspective, one of the biggest albatrosses around Hillary’s neck was her hawkishness in general, and more specifically, her vote in favor of invading Iraq.

          • Rob

            Most U.S. military interventions are well deserving of criticism. Jump in and criticize whenever you want.

          • Rob

            Where’s the proof that the citizen-rebels opposing Assad are sympathetic to ISIS?

          • Angry Jonny

            Let’s not argue semantics? “We are not aligned with ISIS” doesn’t seem fairly nuanced to me.

          • Anna

            I looked at the BBC link and it reminds me of what happened after the death of Tito and the disintegration of the former Yugoslavia.

            Milosevic was a dictator similar to Assad only it was Serbs and Croats against the Muslim population. It was every bit as horrific as what is now happening in Syria only the Muslims fleeing oppression, had little chance for escape. They were slowly executed if they attempted to escape or were rounded up, mass executed or put in concentration camps.

            I was unaware of the numerous factions within the rebel forces in Syria until I read the BBC piece and I have a better understanding as a result.

            Despite a lot of effort, the United States has failed miserably in nation building. We’re just not very good at it.

            In the countries we have tried to get a democratic government started (Iraq, Afghanistan), we have failed miserably.

            Putting troops on the ground in Syria would be a colossal mistake. It would be a repeat of our other failed attempts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

            I think President Obama knew this and this explains his delay in getting the U.S. heavily involved. It was the correct position at the time, and as we all know, hindsight is always 100% correct.

            If President Trump (Ouch!) decides to put troops in Syria, the outcome will be exactly the same as our other failed attempts due to the simple reason these countries do not have the same social and religious customs as nations founded on democratic principles like the U.S. and Europe.

            You cannot force democracy on people who don’t understand it and apparently don’t want it.

            The 21st century political Hydra has grown new heads in North Korea and in the Philippines. We need to focus our efforts there and let Jordan, UAE, and Saudi Arabia among others deal with their immediate hostile neighbors.

          • Rob

            Give us a cite for your assertion that the U.S. is aligned with ISIS. The fact that the U.S. shares ISIS’ interest in having the Assad regime gone doesn’t mean the U.S. is allied with them.

          • Mike

            See my link to the Guardian immediately above.

      • Rob

        Do a Google search for “Obama accomplishments,” click on a few legitimate search results, and you’ll find plenty of accomplishments that aren’t just a matter of style.

      • kevins

        He got Bin Laden.

  • Angry Jonny

    Anyone who plays with kids like that can’t be half bad.