Jeffrey M. Jones
Friday, February 4, 2011
PRINCETON, NJ — President Barack Obama’s job approval ratings were even more polarized during his second year in office than during his first, when he registered the most polarized ratings for a first-year president . An average of 81% of Democrats and 13% of Republicans approved of the job Obama was doing as president during his second year. That 68-point gap in party ratings is up from 65 points in his first year and is easily the most polarized second year for a president since Dwight Eisenhower.
Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton are the only two presidents prior to Obama who had gaps of at least 50 points in their approval ratings by party in their second year in office. In general, recent presidents, including George W. Bush, tend to have more polarized ratings than earlier presidents did.
Though Obama’s first- and second-year ratings rank among the most polarized of all presidential years, Bush had three years with a larger gap in party ratings. In Bush’s fourth year in office — the year he was re-elected — there was an average 76-point gap in approval ratings of him between Republicans and Democrats.
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