Obama's First 100 Days: Rising Hopes, Partisan Politics

There's also broad awareness of the partisan divisions that remain in place: Just 37 percent say Obama has reduced the political partisanship in Washington, while 54 percent say he hasn't -- almost identical to Bush's rating on this issue at his 100-day mark. (Sixty-three percent, however, say Obama has "brought needed change to Washington" after the long-unpopular Bush presidency.)

While complaining about a lack of bipartisanship may be one avenue for the Republicans, their best seems to be to focus on spending and the deficit, together Obama's biggest potential vulnerabilities. Their challenge in doing so, however, is his dramatic advantage in trust to handle the economy -- again, the biggest in polls back 18 years.

INTERNATIONAL – While the economy has dominated public concerns, Obama's best showing is in the international sphere. One notable result is the public's endorsement of his willingness to meet with leaders of countries that have been hostile toward the United States; overall 71 percent support it (albeit fewer Republicans, 40 percent).

On individual measures, Obama gets 71 percent approval for handling the situation in Iraq (Bush went four straight years without majority approval on Iraq), 67 percent approval for handling international issues in general, 63 percent for his work on the situation in Afghanistan and 61 percent for his handling of relations with Cuba.

Fewer, 54 percent, approve of his work on the situation with Iran; 35 percent disapprove. Approval on Iran draws 75 percent of Democrats but just 27 percent of Republicans, with independents precisely between the two; similarly, 78 percent of liberals approve, but just 28 percent of conservatives agree.

BEHIND and AHEAD – We're just 100 days in; Obama's popularity across the miles ahead rests largely on whether hopes for the economy's future hold, and then turn into improvements in views of current conditions. His job approval rating among economic optimists is 84 percent; among pessimists it's a vast 33 points lower, 51 percent.

Obama's hopes of achieving some level of post-partisanship continue to look highly elusive, given substantive partisan differences across a range of issues. While these divisions are far greater now than 20 years ago or longer, Obama's solace is that his two immediate predecessors labored under the same burden. Bush at 100 days had approval from 94 percent of Republicans but just 39 percent of Democrats; Clinton, 82 percent of Democrats vs. 25 percent of Republicans -- both strikingly similar to Obama's gap today.

100 Days Presidential Approval

It's a positive sign for Obama that well over twice as many Americans approve "strongly" of his work overall, 42 percent, as strongly disapprove, 18 percent. So is the fact that his strong approval is 9 points higher than Bush's at 100 days, and 20 points higher than Clinton's at this point.

Previous elected presidents since Eisenhower have averaged 68 percent approval at 100 days, using ABC/Post polls since Reagan, and Gallup data previously -- almost exactly Obama's now. Notably, those were honeymoon ratings: Each is higher than those presidents' ultimate career averages (Clinton's just slightly so, and leaving aside Gerald Ford, who was not elected president but took office after Richard Nixon's resignation).

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