Obama Historically Polarized, According to New Gallup Poll

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Obama has remained favored by Democrats since his 2008 election. Photo Credit: Roxanne Jo Mitchell

Obama’s favorabilty has had a partisan split throughout his first presidential term, according to a Gallup poll released Friday. Results indicate that 80 percent of Democrats currently approve of the president, and 12 percent of Republicans approve. Presidential approval has been similarly polarized for several years, and the spread was even larger at the end of George W. Bush’s second term, with the difference in approval ratings between Republicans and Democrats rising to 76 during his 4th year in office. For Obama, this number is slowly increasing, going from 65 his first year, to 68 in his second and third years.

Gallup Polling Methodology

Gallup tracking poll results from January 20, 2011 to January 19, 2012 were analyzed to reach this data. The collective sample consisted of 179,170 adults residing in the United States. Of these respondents, 52632 identified as Republican, while 54675 identified as Democrat.  Surveys were delivered via landline and cell phone, and there was a minimum quota of 400 cell phone contacts and 600 landline contacts per 1000 respondents. Samples were weighted for demographics and multiple adults in households.

Obama’s First Years Most Polarized in History

Although George W. Bush had a strong partisan split during later years of his presidency, his first two years on had differences of 32 and 44 in approval ratings between Republicans and Democrats, and the difference his third year was 59.  According to Gallup, presidents tend to be most polarized during their fourth years, as political hits are waged by opponents, and the public assess performance during re-election campaigns. Gallup cites Bush’s jump from a difference of 59, to a difference of 76 for his 4th year, as evidence of this hypothesis. If the pattern continues, Obama is on track for record-setting polarization during his fourth year.

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