THE BLOG
03/06/2013 08:42 pm ET | Updated May 06, 2013

Obama Poll Watch -- February, 2013

Second Honeymoon Ending

Before we begin, we have a caveat for our data this month. The data for this column series comes from RealClearPolitics.com, specifically their page of rolling daily "poll of polls" averages of President Obama's job approval ratings from major pollsters. On this page is a handy chart of all polling all the way back to Obama's first days in office, with every day's numbers visible, if you roll the mouse over the chart.

For some reason, their chart has developed a problem in the past few weeks. It refuses to update beyond February 24. Data for February 25-28 is not available at this time, so this month's analysis will be somewhat incomplete (14.3 percent incomplete, for those of you who love precision). I've tried the page on multiple computers and multiple platforms, but the chart's problem exists in all of them, so I strongly suspect it isn't a problem with my browser (although I could be wrong about that, I'll admit).

In any case, all of these numbers will be updated as soon as data becomes available for the missing four days. Oh, and one more thing -- there's a "housecleaning" note at the end of the column, above the raw data section. Next month we'll be sweeping out all of the first-term raw data to reduce the clutter at the end of these columns, and placing it all on a static page for those still interested.

But enough program notes, let's get on with checking out how Obama did last month. As expected, his "second honeymoon" in the polls is starting to fade. The election is long over, the inauguration is fading from memory, and now the real legislative struggles of Obama's second term have begun. Here is this month's chart:

Obama Approval -- February 2013

[Click on graph to see larger-scale version.]

February, 2013

Obama's approval ratings saw a sharp drop last month. The sharpest drop, in fact, since the summer of 2011, right before the campaign started getting underway. His average monthly approval fell from 52.7 percent down to 51.1 percent, a total drop of 1.6 percentage points. This followed a 0.4 percent drop in January, for a full two-point drop in the past two months.

Obama started the month with his State Of The Union speech to Congress, but since that point his numbers have been falling. The sequester fight for the second half of the month took its toll, as Obama and the newly-seated Congress actually got down to work. There was a huge hissy fit in the Senate over the nomination of Chuck Hagel to run the Pentagon, but in the end it turned out to be nothing more than a political stunt by a few crotchety Republicans, and Hagel was confirmed. There was big news at the end of the month, as the Senate's version of the Violence Against Women Act passed the House after a meaningless year-and-a-half delay, but the news kind of got swallowed up in the sequester fight.

While a 1.6 drop in job approval certainly isn't good news for Obama fans, it's also not as bad as it could be. Obama's average monthly disapproval number stayed remarkably steady, and only rose 0.4 percent, from 42.6 to 43.0. Over the past two months, Obama's job disapproval has only risen 0.2 percent overall, in fact (it fell 0.2 percent in January). That's pretty steady in the same time period as his monthly approval rate falling two whole points.

What this means is that 1.2 percent of Obama's February loss in job approval moved to "undecided" -- people who may still be inclined to give Obama the benefit of the doubt, for now. The overall undecided number has risen (from its all-time low for the election) from 2.7 percent back up to a much-more-normal 5.9 percent in February. I'd be surprised to see this trend continue, though, because the undecided number is back up to its normal range now. If it hasn't topped out this month, it will likely do so next month, and then hold fairly stable.

Overall, Obama is still a healthy 8.1 percent "above water" when comparing approval and disapproval -- about where he was after the death of Osama Bin Laden was announced. This puts things into a little more perspective.

But it's also worth pointing out that Obama's numbers were falling at the end of February, so when the last four days of data is added in, these numbers could slightly change, and probably for the worse. It's a minor point -- the overall monthly averages likely won't change more than 0.1 or perhaps 0.2 percent, but the missing data is worth noting.

 

Overall Trends

Unfortunately for Obama, the overall trendline isn't good, at least for the next few months. Part of this is the end of his second post-election "honeymoon" period with the public, as hopes meet realities once again.

March is shaping up to be a tough month for the president. The sequester has now happened -- something nobody thought ever would come to pass, just a few months ago. Obama has been sounding the alarm over the sequester, which is likely going to help him in the long-term budget debate for the rest of the year, as it has forced the media to focus on what, exactly "budget cutting" means. This is a necessary component to the budget discussions, and it's one that Republicans have been dodging for a long time now.

Obama was charged with overhyping the dire effects of budget cuts, but it remains to be seen how the public will eventually view the sequester. But because Obama's been ringing the "bad news" alarm, some of the public's negative reaction is already eating away at his job approval rating. Again, it remains to be seen how this is all going to play out, and it'll likely be the summer (unless the magic Grand Bargain budget agreement manifests itself in the meantime) before we'll truly know how the public views this latest round of austerity. March may be consumed with budget bargaining as well. There are two more landmines in the budgetary path to be navigated, one of which falls at the end of the month.

None of this really bodes well for Obama's job approval. The public is largely sick and tired of the budget brinksmanship, but the people in Washington quite obviously are not. Obama's best chance for a "bounce" in approval may come if the Senate actually takes up an immigration reform bill with a path to citizenship, but this is likely not going to come until at least April, in my humble estimation. Until then (or until some outside event intervenes in an unpredictable manner), Obama's second honeymoon will likely continue to wear off.

 

[Obama Poll Watch Data:]

Housecleaning Note

This will be the final month we will be providing full data lists here, as it makes more sense to divide them into first- and second-term data. So, for this month only, we've got both first- and second-term data listed below (but separated). Next month, and going forward, we will provide all of the second-term data, with a link to a static list of all the data from Obama's first term. This will clean up the end of these columns a bit, as well as still provide all the monthly data for those interested.

We will be providing, for context, the "all-time highs and lows" from both Obama's first and second terms, but separately. The lists of raw data and the archive of this column series will only have second-term data, with a link to the first-term data page.

 

Sources And Methodology

ObamaPollWatch.com is an admittedly amateur effort, but we do try to stay professional when it comes to revealing our sources and methodology. All our source data comes from RealClearPolitics.com; specifically from their daily presidential approval ratings "poll of polls" graphic page. We take their daily numbers, log them, and then average each month's data into a single number -- which is then shown on our monthly charts here (a "poll of polls of polls," if you will...). You can read a much-more detailed explanation of our source data and methodology on our "About Obama Poll Watch" page, if you're interested.

Questions or comments? Use the Email Chris page to drop me a private note.

 

Obama's First-Term Statistical Records

Monthly

Highest Monthly Approval -- 2/09 -- 63.4%

Lowest Monthly Approval -- 10/11 -- 43.4%

Highest Monthly Disapproval -- 9/11, 10/11 -- 51.2%

Lowest Monthly Disapproval -- 1/09 -- 19.6%

Daily

Highest Daily Approval -- 2/15/09 -- 65.5%

Lowest Daily Approval -- 10/9/11 -- 42.0%

Highest Daily Disapproval -- 8/30/11 -- 53.2%

Lowest Daily Disapproval -- 1/29/09 -- 19.3%

 

Obama's Second-Term Statistical Records

Monthly

Highest Monthly Approval -- 1/13 -- 52.7%

Lowest Monthly Approval -- 2/13 -- 51.1%

Highest Monthly Disapproval -- 2/13 -- 43.0%

Lowest Monthly Disapproval -- 1/13 -- 42.6%

Daily

Highest Daily Approval -- 1/31/13 -- 52.5%

Lowest Daily Approval -- 2/16/13 -- 50.2%

Highest Daily Disapproval -- 2/7/13, 2/9/13 -- 43.8%

Lowest Daily Disapproval -- 2/24/13 -- 42.3%

 

Obama's Second-Term Raw Monthly Data

[All-time high in bold, all-time low underlined.]

Month -- (Approval / Disapproval / Undecided)

02/13 -- 51.1 / 43.0 / 5.9

01/13 -- 52.7 / 42.6 / 4.7

 

Obama's First-Term Raw Monthly Data

[All-time high in bold, all-time low underlined.]

Month -- (Approval / Disapproval / Undecided)

01/13 -- 52.7 / 42.6 / 4.7

12/12 -- 53.1 / 42.8 / 4.1

11/12 -- 50.6 / 46.7 / 2.7

10/12 -- 49.4 / 47.8 / 2.8

09/12 -- 49.1 / 47.6 / 3.3

08/12 -- 47.8 / 48.3 / 3.9

07/12 -- 47.2 / 48.1 / 4.7

06/12 -- 47.8 / 47.8 / 4.4

05/12 -- 48.1 / 47.8 / 4.1

04/12 -- 47.8 / 47.1 / 5.1

03/12 -- 47.7 / 47.2 / 5.1

02/12 -- 48.2 / 47.2 / 4.6

01/12 -- 46.3 / 48.3 / 5.4

12/11 -- 45.1 / 49.5 / 5.4

11/11 -- 44.4 / 50.2 / 5.4

10/11 -- 43.4 / 51.2 / 5.4

09/11 -- 43.5 / 51.2 / 5.3

08/11 -- 43.8 / 50.7 / 5.5

07/11 -- 46.2 / 47.8 / 6.0

06/11 -- 48.5 / 46.0 / 5.5

05/11 -- 51.4 / 43.1 / 5.5

04/11 -- 46.4 / 48.2 / 5.4

03/11 -- 48.1 / 46.4 / 5.5

02/11 -- 49.4 / 44.5 / 6.1

01/11 -- 48.5 / 45.7 / 5.8

12/10 -- 45.5 / 48.1 / 6.4

11/10 -- 45.5 / 49.0 / 5.5

10/10 -- 45.5 / 49.1 / 5.4

09/10 -- 45.7 / 49.7 / 4.6

08/10 -- 45.3 / 49.5 / 5.2

07/10 -- 46.6 / 47.4 / 6.0

06/10 -- 47.6 / 46.7 / 5.7

05/10 -- 48.1 / 45.5 / 6.4

04/10 -- 47.8 / 46.5 / 5.7

03/10 -- 48.1 / 46.4 / 5.5

02/10 -- 47.9 / 46.1 / 6.0

01/10 -- 49.2 / 45.3 / 5.5

12/09 -- 49.4 / 44.9 / 5.7

11/09 -- 51.1 / 43.5 / 5.4

10/09 -- 52.2 / 41.9 / 5.9

09/09 -- 52.7 / 42.0 / 5.3

08/09 -- 52.8 / 40.8 / 6.4

07/09 -- 56.4 / 38.1 / 5.5

06/09 -- 59.8 / 33.6 / 6.6

05/09 -- 61.4 / 31.6 / 7.0

04/09 -- 61.0 / 30.8 / 8.2

03/09 -- 60.9 / 29.9 / 9.2

02/09 -- 63.4 / 24.4 / 12.2

01/09 -- 63.1 / 19.6 / 17.3

 

Column Archives (Second Term)

[Jan 13]

 

Column Archives (First Term)

[Jan 13], [Dec 12], [Nov 12], [Oct 12], [Sep 12], [Aug 12], [Jul 12], [Jun 12], [May 12], [Apr 12], [Mar 12], [Feb 12], [Jan 12], [Dec 11], [Nov 11], [Oct 11], [Sep 11], [Aug 11], [Jul 11], [Jun 11], [May 11], [Apr 11], [Mar 11], [Feb 11], [Jan 11], [Dec 10], [Nov 10], [Oct 10], [Sep 10], [Aug 10], [Jul 10], [Jun 10], [May 10], [Apr 10], [Mar 10], [Feb 10], [Jan 10], [Dec 09], [Nov 09], [Oct 09], [Sep 09], [Aug 09], [Jul 09], [Jun 09], [May 09], [Apr 09], [Mar 09]

 

Chris Weigant blogs at:

ChrisWeigant.com

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Full archives of OPW columns: ObamaPollWatch.com

 

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