The Washington Post

How Obama is like Harry Truman and George W. Bush — in two charts

As far as public opinion goes, President Obama has been in a second-term slump. Where does he stand right now? In between where George W. Bush and Harry Truman stood at comparable points in their presidencies, according to new data from Gallup.

Obama's average approval rating between late-July and last Saturday was 44.5 percent, marking a third straight quarter the president's number dropped, the Gallup data show.


The 2013 decline is not surprising. Obama's approval rating was on the rise through 2012 and the beginning of 2013 -- when he was fresh off a reelection victory. But since that time, he's dealt with revelations about sweeping government surveillance, tried to convince a war-weary public and Congress to take military action in Syria, and engaged in a lengthy fiscal debate involving a government shutdown. That's not exactly smooth sailing.

What it means is that dating back to the middle of the 20th century, Obama's 19th quarter in office is most comparable to Bush's and Truman's; their approval ratings were 43.9 percent and 45 percent, respectively.


It's far too early to draw any definitive judgments about how Obama's second term will be viewed by the public. As the months and years go on, here's one thing worth keeping in mind: Presidents have by and large been less popular in their second terms than their first.

Sean Sullivan has covered national politics for The Washington Post since 2012.



Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments
Most Read



Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Your Three. Videos curated for you.
Play Videos
From clubfoot to climbing: Double amputee lives life of adventure
Learn to make traditional soup dumplings
Deaf banjo player teaches thousands
Play Videos
Unconventional warfare with a side of ale
The rise and fall of baseball cards
How to keep your child safe in the water
Play Videos
'Did you fall from heaven?': D.C.'s pick-up lines
5 ways to raise girls to be leaders
How much can one woman eat?
Play Videos
How to get organized for back to school
How to buy a car via e-mail
The signature drink of New Orleans
Next Story
Scott Clement · October 21, 2013

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.