Americans give Obama mixed report card on his first year

Americans are split on whether Barack Obama’s first year as president has been a success, a new national poll finds.

By , Washington Bureau Chief

Americans are split on whether Barack Obama’s first year as president has been a success, a new national poll finds.

Some 45 percent of those surveyed in a nationwide Quinnipiac University Poll released Wednesday said the president’s first year was a success, and an equal percentage thought it had been a failure.

“He is getting a passing grade, but the report card is not that good that his mother is going to put it up on the refrigerator,” says Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. “Americans are split and that is not surprising; they were split about George Bush, they were split about Bill Clinton.”

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In other findings, the new Quinnipiac survey found that only 45 percent of voters approve of the job Mr. Obama is doing. That is in line with the average of major polls maintained by the Real Clear Politics website, which shows an average 47.6 percent approval rating versus a 45.8 percent disapproval score.

To put Obama’s approval ratings in context, "President Obama’s job approval in the January 2-4 Gallup Daily tracking was the second lowest in the modern era for Presidents starting their second year in office,” Republican pollster Neil Newhouse wrote in a blog post. Obama opened the new year with a 50 percent job approval rating, which was marginally higher than President Reagan’s 49 percent at the start of his second year.

Obama’s approval numbers in the Quinnipiac poll on specific areas of domestic policy are, except for terrorism, lower than his overall approval rating. Only 41 percent approve of his handling of the economy, while 34 percent approve of his performance on creating jobs. In the wake of the Dec. 25 airliner bombing attempt, 48 percent approve of his performance handling terrorism.

Pollster Brown, the guest at Wednesday's Monitor-sponsored breakfast for reporters in Washington, said that 47 percent of Americans do not think the President is spending enough time on the economy. “Whether or not he is spending 100 percent of his time on the economy, it does not matter. They think he is not spending enough time on the economy. And what that reflects is that the economy is issue one, issue two, and issue three in terms of voters’ concerns,” Brown said.

It will be tough for the White House to turn the president’s poll numbers around until the economy is clearly seen to be on the mend. “You change numbers by changing people's lives,” Brown said.

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