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Eric Boehlert Headshot

The Media Myth of Obama's "Falling Poll Numbers"

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Feeding off right-wing talking points, political journalists love to push the idea that Obama's polling numbers are in the tank and that he's fading fast. It's all part of the preferred, CW narrative that his entire presidency is slipping away.

Slight problem: It's not true.

Does the White House wish Obama's job approval rating was higher? I'm sure advisers do. Is there anything unusual in Obama's approval number, other than the fact that it nearly doubles the rating his predecessor left office with? No, not really.

Indeed, the news media's ongoing hand-wringing about Obama's polling numbers and how he's only around 50 percent (it's "tepid" and cause for "worry") is rather odd considering former President Bush served nearly his entire second term with an approval rating below 50 percent and left the presidency with an almost incomprehensibly low 22 percent approval rating.

Also note that for the majority of Bush's first year in office (i.e. up until September 11, 2001), his approval rating remained pretty much exactly where Obama's has been since late last summer: hovering around 50 percent. But do you recall a media obsession about Bush's super-soft poll numbers back during the spring and summer of 2001?

Neither do I.

If you look at Gallup's weekly ratings for Obama, in late August 2009, he had a 50 percent approval rating. And for the most recently completed weekly tabulation from Gallup, Obama's rating stands at 48 percent. That's right, over a nearly seven-month period, the president's approval rating, as measured by Gallup, dropped exactly 2 percentage points, which obviously falls within Gallup's margin of error.

That means you could accurately say that Obama's job approval rating has remained unchanged over the last six-plus months.

Read the entire Media Matters column, here.