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

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).

(Such comparisons are imperfect given different polling approaches; the Gallup polls from Eisenhower to Carter had many more "undecided" respondents than more current polls tend to measure.)

Obama's personal appeal also is important; his overall job approval rating is higher than nearly all his individual-issue ratings, suggesting that his popularity beyond the issues is lifting assessments of him overall.

Personal popularity also can provide cartilage for a president when times get tough. Among Obama's attributes in this poll, 74 percent call him honest and trustworthy, about as many say he can be "trusted in a crisis" and "understands the problems of people like you" and six in 10 say he shares their values. Fewer, but still 56 percent, see him as a good commander-in-chief, a prominent question during the election campaign.

A final cautionary note has to do with the vagaries of events and their influence on a president's fortunes. Views that the country is on the right track last were this high in the flush of apparent success in Iraq in late April 2003, a day before George W. Bush popped out of a fighter jet onto the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln under a banner proclaiming "Mission Accomplished." The political winds soon shifted dramatically; as the war and then the economy took their toll, his popularity never regained its level of that day.

METHODOLOGY – This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by telephone April 21-24, 2009, among a random national sample of 1,072 adults, including landline and cell-phone-only respondents and an oversample of African-Americans (weighted to their correct share of the national population). Results for the full sample have a 3-point error margin; click here for a detailed description of sampling error. Sampling, data collection and tabulation by TNS of Horsham, Pa.

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