PRINCETON, NJ — Throughout his second term, President Barack Obama’s overall job approval rating has exceeded his approval ratings on both the economy and foreign affairs, arguably the two most important areas of focus for presidents. Obama’s 36% approval rating for handling foreign affairs and 35% approval on the economy in Gallup’s Aug. 7-10 poll, compares with a higher 44% overall job approval rating in the same poll.
Obama’s job approval rating has been a bit lower — averaging 42% in Gallup Daily tracking — since that Aug. 7-10 poll, which was conducted as the U.S. commenced airstrikes against Islamic militants in Iraq.
That Obama’s overall approval rating is higher than his ratings on foreign affairs or the economy is evidence he is getting a more positive review from the public than would be expected given his ratings on the two major issues. This is a change from his first term, when his average overall approval rating (50%) matched his average foreign affairs approval rating, but still exceeded his economic approval rating (41%).
All these ratings are lower for Obama in his second term than in his first term, but his average foreign affairs rating has dropped more than his economic approval rating or his overall job approval rating.
Gallup regularly began measuring presidential approval for handling the economy and foreign affairs during Ronald Reagan’s presidency. Since then, there have been different patterns in how these measures compare for the various presidents. For some, like Obama, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton, the patterns varied across the presidents’ two terms.
Looking at the last nine presidential terms, three basic patterns emerge in how Americans rate the president on the economy and foreign affairs
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