CNN is reporting that President Obama’s poll ratings have slipped to 57% down from 62%, but does it really matter? CNN started taking presidential approval ratings a week after Obama took office which probably qualifies them as a finalist in the Useless Journalism of the Year Award. In fact this bi-weekly obsession with approval ratings smacks of being nothing more than a gimmick, as are most polls which arent really designed to learn anything only to give people something to talk about and fill up a 24 hour news cycle.
Though I’ve been critical of almost everything Obama has done since taking office ( and I think with good reason — we’ll see if he comes through on the public option for health care) from the GM bailout which I knew was a waste of money to the AIG bailout, and his handling of Iran, on Friday banks were reporting record profits. The first order of business in November of 2008 and continuing into the Obama Administration was to save the banks even if meant taxpayers holding their nose to do it. That seems to have been accomplished.The jury is still out on the stimulus and other initiaves.So at this stage an approval rating means nothing except for political or PR purposes. A year from now will be another story since it will really reflect how people feel about how he is doing his job. But now its just fodder for cable news.
Just as an aside, Ronald Reagan left office after 8 years with a 48% approval rating, so 52% of the American people either disapproved or had no opinion of Reagan’s presidency. That’s something you’d never know listening to the way people, especially Republicans, talk about Reagan today as if he were a wildly popular and successful president. But according to his final poll numbers that wasn’t exactly the case.