If it seems like spring and summer are tough seasons for Obama, they are.
Since taking office, the president has endured distractions, disasters, and bad polling numbers--the worst of it, often, coming in June. From BP oil washing up onto Florida's beaches, to firing Gen. Stanley McChrystal, to Anthony Weiner's Twitter/sexting scandal, to saying the "private sector is doing fine," Junes have been rough on the president.
Of course, every month can be rough when you're president. Approval numbers fluctuate wildly, and on a daily basis. Every week, there's some new problem getting in the way. It's hard to say that one month of the year can really be worse than the others, on average.
But it seems that, every year, the end of spring and beginning of summer mark a particularly tough time for Obama, when discussion turns to slipping polls and some broader, collectively negative trajectory, prompting us to wonder whether or not he'll overcome it. Since the past two weeks have been no different, here's a brief look at what Obama has faced in each June since his inauguration.
|June 2009: Stalled Agenda|
The Iranian crisis brought some criticism for Obama's reluctance to meddle in a foreign political clash, but this June saw the struggle of Obama's three signature, allegedly fast-tracked policies: health-care reform, financial regulation and cap-and-trade. He pushed for health-care consensus as the bill was slow to take shape. The House passed the cap-and-trade bill that would spark conservative outrage. The president took the early step of laying out financial-reform ideas, although the bill would not pass until 2010. In Obama's main agenda points, we can see the seeds of tea party revolt, when protestors showed up at Democratic town-hall meetings in August.
Gallup Daily Polling
High: 64 percent approve / 30 percent disapprove (+34) on June 1
Low: 57 percent approve / 35 percent disapprove (+22) on June 20-21
Trend: Obama's polling slipped throughout most of his first year, but the trend had been positive in April. After May 5, when Obama logged 66 percent approval / 27 percent disapproval (+39), his ratings fell back into a slide that would not end until September, when his approval plateaued in the low 50-percent range, with his disapproval in the low 40-percent range.
Things That Happened
May 26 - Obama picks Sonia Sotomayor as his first Supreme Court nominee
June 4 - Obama delivers Cairo speech
June 12 - Iran holds presidential elections, sparking protests for the rest of the month
June 15 - Stumping for health-care reform, Obama delivers a speech to the American Medical Association
June 15 - CBO says preliminary version of Democrats' health-care bill would add $1 trillion to the U.S. debt from 2010-2019
June 15 - Gallup reports that "conservatives" are single-largest ideological group
June 17 - Obama rolls out financial-reform plan
June 18 - New York Times headline: "Obama pressured to strike firmer tone on Iran"
June 26 - House passes cap-and-trade bill
|June 2010: BP, and "The Runaway General"|
BP's Deepwater Horizon catastrophe defined the spring of 2010 for Obama. With health-care reform signed, financial reform not yet passed, and energy/climate legislation stalled, Obama saw the environmental catastrophe drag on into summer. He faced criticism both for the administration's seemingly slow response, and for his decision to suspend some drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, which pitted him against Democrats like Sen. Mary Landrieu and gave conservatives more fodder to use against him. Rolling Stone's story on Gen. Stanley McChrystal didn't help. Obama fired the top commander in one of the world's two largest war theaters, after a Rolling Stone writer recorded and reported the general's sharp criticisms of civilian leadership.
Gallup Daily Polling
High: 49 percent approve / 43 percent disapprove (+6) on June 15
Low: 44 percent approve / 48 percent disapprove (-4) on June 9-11
Trend: Until June 2010, Obama's approval ratings had fallen into negative territory for only seven days during his presidency: two in March, three in April, and two in late May of 2010. But June saw his first extended flirtation with the political Mendoza line, as he was rated in negative territoriy for 11 days that month. After a positive trend in May, June kicked off a summer slide from which Obama wouldn't recover until December, when he was finally able to sustain positive ratings again.
Things That Happened
June 2 - Fox News headline: "Obama Faces Criticism on the Left and Right for Response to Oil Spill"
June 4 - BP oil washes ashore in Florida
June 15 - In Oval Office address, Obama accuses BP of "recklessness"
June 15 - Lawmakers of both parties pressure Obama to lift the Gulf deepwater-drilling moratorium
June 22 - Rolling Stone publishes "The Runaway General," by Michael Hastings
June 23 - Obama accepts the resignation of Gen. Stanley McChrystal as top commander in Afghanistan
|June 2011: War and Weiner|
This was a complicated month for Obama on multiple fronts. The NATO/coalition mission continued in Libya as rebels fought with Gaddafi forces, while Obama defended his continued use of force against critics who alleged he had violated the War Powers Act by failing to seek congressional approval. At the same time, the Anthony Weiner scandal -- the bulging-briefs N.Y. congressman who tweeted lewd photos to young women -- unfolded in the first half of the month. It was widely viewed as bad for Democrats, tainting the party and distracting from anything positive Democrats hoped to achieve. Having promised to begin an Afghanistan drawdown by July 2011, Obama was caught between competing political forces: an unpopular war, criticism for having announced a timeline, and concerns over the security situation in Afghanistan. In an East Room address, he announced 33,000 troops would come home by fall 2012 and that 5,000 would be withdrawn immediately.
Gallup Daily Polling
High: 50 percent approve / 40 percent disapprove (+10) on June 6
Low: 43 percent approve / 50 percent disapprove (-7) on June 22
Average: +/- 0
Trend: Obama had dipped into negative polling territory for most of April and rebounded in May after the death of Osama bin Laden. June 2011 brought a steep decline back into negative territory, which didn't abate until late August. Obama's approval typically jumps up and down in Gallup polling, but he stayed out of positive territory for the final 10 days of June.
Things That Happened
June 1: TIME headline: "Death, Prison or Exile: Gaddafi Is Out of Options"
June 6: Anthony Weiner admits, "The Picture Was of Me and I Sent It"
June 15: Responding to critics, Obama says the War Powers Act doesn't apply to his use of force in Libya
June 16: Anthony Weiner resigns
June 22: With Afghanistan withdrawal set to begin in July, Obama lays out a plan to begin the U.S. exit
June 27: Gaddafi charged with war crimes
|June 2012: Cold Economy, Hot Campaign|
If you're a president, there are better ways to begin summer than Obama has experienced this June: Conventional campaign wisdom has seemingly reversed, with some analysts giving Mitt Romney the advantage after a weak jobs report at the start of the month. On top of that, Obama has been dogged by his comment that "the private sector is doing fine." And then there's the FBI investigation into national-security leaks, with Republicans accusing the White House of leaking information on U.S. tactics in an attempt to bolster Obama's military cred.
Gallup Daily Polling High: 50 percent approve / 44 percent disapprove (+6) on June 10
Low: 45 percent approve / 48 percent disapprove (-3) on June 6
Trend: On the whole, Obama's ratings had been improving since October, when they bottomed out at 38 percent approve / 54 percent disapprove (-16), but in early May he recorded four straight days in negative territory, the second time that had happened since February. This month, Obama recorded three consecutive days of negative polling, June 5-7, although he did reach 50 percent approval on June 10.
Things That Happened/Are Happening:
June 1 - Bureau of Labor Statistics announces the monthly unemployment rate rose from 8.1 percent to 8.2 percent
June 1 - Obama says he regrets "Polish death camp" gaffe
June 5 - After Republicans allege political motivations for national security leaks, the FBI opens an investigation into the leaks
June 5 - Gov. Scott Walker wins his recall election, and pundits question Obama's decision not to campaign for Democrat Tom Barrett
June 8 - Obama says the "private sector is doing fine"
June 12 - FBI agents interview Attorney General Eric Holder and FBI Director Robert Mueller in the leaks investigation