Focus on the health care machinations in Washington is bound to spin into a look at Barack Obama's popularity. And voila, the latest Gallup daily tracking poll has the president's approval rating at what it calls his "lowest yet."
Actually, as far as I see, Gallup has had the president's approval at this level – 46 percent – a few times earlier this month, first on March 10. What is (very slightly) new is that he's hit his highest disapproval in Gallup's daily data, 48 percent. It’s been numerically higher, by a point or two, in some other polls.
Like Gallup, Pew Research had Obama at 46 percent approval (43 percent disapproval) in a poll done Sunday. An NBC/Journal poll, done Sunday as well, also had him under 50 percent – in this case at 48 percent approval, with 47 percent disapproving.
Obama’s approval has been this low before – 44 to 46 percent in a few other polls the past few months. His numerically highest disapproval was 50 percent in three CNN/ORC polls from December to February.
Of greatest import is the president’s trend line, which continues closely to resemble that of Ronald Reagan, the last president to take office in this kind of economy. Reagan’s first-year drop in approval and Obama’s are almost identical, correlating, as we've reported, at .88.
With or without the health care brouhaha, Obama would do well to expect more of the same. In our polling across Reagan's second year, he averaged 48 percent approval, cracking 50 percent (barely) only twice, and bottoming out at 42 percent just after the second anniversary of his inauguration.
He recovered when the economy did.