Was Barack Obama Good or Bad for America?

President Barack Obama. Photo courtesy: White House
President Barack Obama. Photo courtesy: White House

As Barack Obama passed the torch to Donald Trump on Friday, a new poll attempts to analyze Obama’s performance as the President of the United States.

The Harris Poll takes a final look at America’s feelings towards Obama’s time in office. For the first time since August 2009, the poll reveals, just over half of Americans rate President Barack Obama positively.

As his two-term Presidency came to a close, 51% of adults say the President was doing an excellent or pretty good job overall.

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While Obama’s positive ratings have been steadily climbing since March of 2016, this new rating is significantly higher than the 44% who felt positively in September / October of 2016, the last time this question was asked.

When Obama first entered office, ratings were quite high, with a majority of Americans saying he was doing an excellent or pretty good job between March and June of 2009.

The highest rating on record came in May of that same year when nearly 6 in 10 Americans believed he was doing a good job (59%) and, until today, August of 2009 was the last showing of a positive tilt at 51%.

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While the masses agree President Obama was doing at least a pretty good job overall, some groups are more positively leaning than others. Those most likely to rate the President positively are:

  • Democrats (86% vs. 46% Independent and 15% Republican);
  • Millennials (66% vs. 55% 35-44, 45% 45-54, 43% 55-64, 41% 65+);
  • Urban or Suburban dwellers (62% urban and 50% suburban vs. 39% rural);
  • Parents (58% of those with a child under 18 in the house vs. 48% without);
  • Westerners (58% vs. 48% Midwesterners, 49% Southerners, and 49% Northeasterners);
  • Women (55% vs. 48% men); and,
  • College educated adults (54% college grad and 53% some college vs. 45% high school or less).

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,192 U.S. adults ages 18+ surveyed online between January 9 and 11, 2017. The survey findings were released Friday, January 20, 2017.

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Rakesh Raman