President Obama’s job approval ratings have been climbing of late. The president crossed the 50 percent approval threshold back in March for the first time since 2013, and he’s on track to finish his final term with a majority of Americans approving of the job he is doing.1 It’s only a slight majority, but that still looks pretty good compared with the approval ratings of other presidents since the end of World War II.
Presidents’ approval ratings tend to go up once they reach lame-duck status, after their successor is picked but before Inauguration Day. So it’s possible that Obama’s approval ratings, already pretty decent, will tick up several points before he officially leaves office.
Note: Job approval ratings for past presidents are taken from the last poll in October, the last month in their final year before they became lame-duck presidents, and the last poll of that year.
John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon, who didn’t finish full terms in office, are excluded.
* Obama’s approval rating is from the end of July.
Obama has rarely been held in such high regard. Unlike Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, who both enjoyed high approval ratings through much of their presidencies, Obama has mostly had approval ratings below 50 percent: Only in 2009, after his first inauguration, and during a short “honeymoon” period around his re-election did he garner the approval of a majority of Americans.
With both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump historically disliked, it’s easy to see Obama’s recent popularity as a reaction to the candidates trying to replace him, rather than a change in how the public evaluates his performance. But, …