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Obama approval falls back to average

Though he began his presidency with the second highest approval rating in the Gallup Poll’s history of tracking the statistic, Barack Obama’s numbers have dropped back to merely average, driven by Republicans who are growing increasingly unhappy with the president’s policies.

Obama’s initial job approval rating in January stood at 68 percent, second only to Kennedy’s 72 percent among elected presidents since Gallup began tracking the rating during Eisenhower’s administration.

But after only a month in office, Obama’s negative rating has doubled: from 12 percent who disapprove of the job he’s doing, to 24 percent.

Obama’s overall numbers in the most recent Gallup poll stand at 63 percent approval, 24 percent disapproval, and 12 percent undecided, numbers most similar to President George W. Bush’s approval ratings at the same point in his presidency and right on track with the average one-month approval ratings for all elected presidents between Nixon and the younger Bush.

Gallup Poll’s chart comparing one-month approval ratings of elected presidents Nixon through Obama can be seen below:

The majority of newly disapproving voters comes from the ranks of Republicans.

While Obama has maintained his support through the first month with Democrats (88 percent upon inauguration to 89 percent now) and independents (62 percent to 63 percent, respectively), approval among Republicans has fallen from 41 percent on Jan. 25 to 30 percent by Feb. 15.

The steepest fall has been among those calling themselves conservative Republicans, 36 percent of whom approved of Obama’s job performance in his first week, a number slipping to 22 percent by the end of the president’s first month.

According to the Gallup Poll’s website, the only other substantial drop in approval of Obama among demographic subgroups is an 11-point slip among upper-middle-income Americans (those making from $5,000 to $7,499 per month), from 69 percent initial approval of the president to 58 percent after his first month in office.

Gallup speculates the ratings drop among upper-middle-income Americans could reflect a reaction to the economic stimulus bill that Obama has advocated so strongly in recent weeks. According to the Gallup site, a survey on the stimulus bill found the least support for it among this income group.

Gallup statistics show that presidents typically begin their administrations with a relatively high approval rating and high undecided rating. After a month, most presidents see a swing of undecideds moving in their favor, a trend typically evident through the first 100 days as well, giving rise to the notion of a president enjoying a “honeymoon” period in his first several months in office.

Obama joins Clinton, however, as the only two elected presidents in Gallup’s polling history to watch the balance of opinion become more negative as Americans see them in action through their first month.

According the Gallup website, “The latest results are based on telephone interviews with 1,614 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted Feb. 19-21, 2009, as part of Gallup Poll Daily tracking. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95 percent confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.”