Methinks you’ll shortly be hearing and reading a lot more, here and elsewhere, about Obama’s first 100 days.
On national public opinion, my go-to guy is Andy Kohut of the Pew Research Center. He just released a Pew 100-days report on the public’s feelings about Obama, as a president and as a person. Short version, Obama is in better shape than either G.W. Bush or Bill Clinton at the same stage of their presidencies. (Comparisons to Bush will be rendered unreliable once we get past the anniversary of 9/11, because that event had an incomparable impact on Bush’s ratings. But for now, we’re comparing three new presidents, each struggling with a weak economy (although the previous recessions don’t compare to this one.)
Here, verbatim from his email to the media, is Kohut’s summary of his findings:
“As he approaches the 100-day mark of his presidency, Barack Obama’s job approval ratings are higher than those of his most recent predecessors. However, the 44th president is even more distinguished by his strong personal popularity. Fully 73% of Americans – including as many as 46% of Republicans – hold a favorable view of Obama as a person. Fewer people held favorable impressions of George W. Bush (61%) and Bill Clinton (60%) early in their first years.
Obama’s job approval stands at 63%, which is up slightly from March (59%). Opinions about Obama’s performance remain highly partisan. Fully 93% of Democrats approve of the way Obama is handling his job as president, compared with just 30% of Republicans. Independents’ opinions fall in between, with 58% expressing positive views of his performance and 27% negative opinions.
Fully 79% of Democrats very strongly approve of Obama’s job performance; only about half as many Democrats (39%) expressed very strong approval for Clinton at this stage in 1993. Obama’s highly positive ratings from members of his own party also surpass Bush’s 71% very strong approval among Republicans in April 2001.
The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted April 14-21 among 1,507 adults finds that Obama’s job ratings on several specific domestic issues are on balance positive, but also reflect the division of opinion about many of his policies. For example, 60% approve of his handling of the economy generally, while 33% disapprove. Fewer (50%) approve of his handling of the budget deficit, compared with 39% who disapprove.
In conducting foreign policy, most Americans think Obama is striking the right balance in pushing American interests (57%) and in taking into account the interests and views of U.S. allies (56%). The public also is rendering a somewhat more positive view of Obama’s decision to close the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo than it did a few months ago; by 51% to 38%, more now approve of the decision to shut down Guantanamo.
The survey finds that Michelle Obama’s personal favorability ratings have increased since just before her husband’s inauguration in January. More than three-quarters of Americans (76%) say they have a favorable opinion of the first lady, up from 68% in January. Much of the change has come among Republicans, especially Republican women. About two-thirds of Republican women (67%) have a favorable impression of Michelle Obama, a gain of 21 points since January.”