Obama’s approval ratings tell a contradictory story


President Barack Obama has seen a four-point upswing in his approval rating since his speech ending combat missions in Iraq, according to CNN.com. Fifty-one percent of Americans now approve of the job Obama is doing in office.

For the economy, however, Obama has received a new low approval rating according to the CNN/Opinion Research Corporation Survey. Just less than five in 10 Americans now trust that Barack Obama can revive the economy.

Furthermore, as Obama is traveling around the country delivering speeches, he continues to draw record-breaking crowds similar to the ones he drew during his 2008 campaign.

Such contradictory facts have political experts wondering which direction Obama’s presidency will go over the next two or six years. A recurring topic among political analysts is will Obama be a Jimmy Carter or a Bill Clinton?

Jimmy Carter was elected based upon his “Washington Outsider” status. During his presidency, he proved ineffective and was often distracted by the myriad of issues he faced.

Based upon CNN/Opinion Research polling, Bill Clinton faced extremely low approval ratings at the midterms when his party lost control of Congress. He recovered, however, to be a popular and effective president, and left office in 2000 with a budget surplus.

After eight years of a George W. Bush presidency, the U.S. went from a budget surplus to the worst recession since the Great Depression. Two years into Obama’s presidency, the economy has not recovered as quickly as Democrats would have liked, and they face a tremendous test during the midterm elections.

According to political journalist Ed Hornick, Republicans have rallied their base, and while holding such a minority in Congress, they have not had to put forward any of their own legislation. They have been able to critique the moves of the Democrats without having to provide any alternatives.

Republicans need to win 39 seats in the House of Representatives to gain a majority, though some experts have predicted they could win up to 45.

To put it simply, American voters have a “What have you done for me lately?” mentality. The U.S. is mired in a recession that has been in the making after years of failed policies. The U.S. financial system nearly collapsed, and nearly eight million Americans lost their jobs.

Obama and the Democrats have not led as strong of an economic recovery as fast as many Americans would have liked. Voters want their jobs back, and they want them back now. Voters do not have jobs, and the Democrats are in power. Therefore, the Democrats are to blame in the mind of many voters.

If the Democrats lost control of a house of Congress, Obama could take a lesson from Clinton. Simplify your message. Go on offense. Key on independents, and rise above any partisan bickering.

Americans are tired of fighting between Democrats and Republicans. Obama has tried to work with Republicans on jobs bills and healthcare, but Republicans have not had to work with Obama, and they have resisted doing so. Political analysts agree if Republicans gain power in November, Obama will have no choice to work with them.

Alex Apple is a freshman political science and journalism major from Nashville, Tenn.