By Bonnie K. Goodman
The presidential election is making the American public already miss President Barack Obama. According to a CNN/ORC poll released on Thursday, Oct. 6, 2016, Obama is clocking in his highest approval rating for his second term and tied for the best of his presidency. The poll shows that Obama has a 55 percent approval rating with only 44 percent American disapproving of his job performance. The survey says volumes about what voters feel about the two presidential candidates, Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton.
Obama last had such a high approval rating in CNN/ORC poll in January 2013 at the time of his second inauguration, and after his first inauguration in January 2009. The president numbers hit lows progressively during the first and second years of his second term, reaching as low as 38 percent depending on the poll. Last year, in the CNN/ORC poll Obama had a 45 percent approval rating. The polls have been looking up for Obama since February when they first the hit the 50 percent mark again and they have remained there in CNN/ORC polls for seven months, with a 2016 polling average of 51 percent.
President Obama has been working to elect Clinton not for her but his legacy, as Trump has been arguing that a Clinton presidency would continue Obama’s policies. Although Clinton is now up in the polls; she is unpopular, as he has never been personally even when his approval rating was down. Obama has to make a tough sell to the American public, and his growing approval rating helps. Obama is appealing to the groups where his poll numbers have improved the most, Democrats all over the country, and all gender, and racial groups.
President Obama is selling Clinton as essential to cementing his legacy, especially with African-American voters. Speaking at the September Congressional Black Caucus Foundation dinner, Obama told the caucus, “I will consider it a personal insult, an insult to my legacy if this community lets down its guard and fails to activate itself in this election. You want to give me a good sendoff? Go vote. And I’m going to be working as hard as I can these next seven weeks to make sure folks do.”
President Obama’s poll numbers are way ahead of his predecessor Republican George W. Bush, whose numbers were in the 20s by the end of his term in 2008. Obama’s numbers are just shy of Democrat Bill Clinton’s at the same time in his term in 2000, where he had a 58 percent approval rating. Obama’s numbers, however, are the same as Republican Ronald Reagan in 1988.
Only Reagan saw their chosen successor win the White House, when in 1988 Vice President George H. W. Bush won the presidency the first time since 1948 when the party in power won more than two consecutive terms. Americans seem to get nostalgic for their lame duck presidents with both Reagan and Clinton receiving approval ratings above 60 percent after the election was over no matter the results.