PRINCETON, NJ — President Barack Obama earned the lowest monthly job approval rating of his presidency to date in August, with 41 percent of U.S. adults approving of his overall job performance, down from 44 percent in July. He also received term-low monthly job approval ratings from both Hispanics (48 percent) and whites (33 percent) and tied his lowest rating from blacks (84 percent).
The latest results are based on Gallup Daily tracking throughout August and include telephone interviews with more than 12,000 whites, 1,100 blacks, and nearly 1,200 Hispanics.
Whites’ approval of Obama has trended downward thus far in 2011 after showing little change in 2010. Whites’ largest drop in support for the president within a calendar year — 17 percentage points — came in 2009, declining from 58 percent in February, the first full month of Obama’s presidency, to 41 percent by December.
Blacks have remained solidly approving of Obama throughout his presidency; however, 2011 is the first year this group’s monthly job approval has routinely registered below 90 percent, indicating a decline in blacks’ support, albeit a fairly minor one.
The president’s current standing with Hispanics reflects a rather steep decline since January, when 60 percent approved of him. This follows Hispanics’ less-pronounced drops in their support in each of the first two years of his presidency. As a result, the gap between blacks and whites in Obama’s job approval has been widening while the gap between Hispanics’ and whites’ approval has been narrowing.
Although Hispanics’ monthly approval of Obama dipped below 50 percent for the first time in August, more still approve than disapprove (48 percent vs. 37 percent) of his job performance. A relatively high 15 percent — typical for Hispanics — has no opinion.
Hispanics’ Approval of Obama Now Close to National Average
The gradual shift in Hispanics’ job approval of Obama toward whites’ level of job approval is also seen in the accompanying graph showing the differences between Obama’s job approval rating, nationally, and his ratings from each racial group, on a monthly basis since February 2009.
While blacks and Hispanics both expressed significantly higher-than-average approval for Obama throughout 2009 and most of 2010, Hispanics’ approval has been moving progressively closer to the national average and is now only single digits above it. Whites’ approval has consistently remained about eight points below the national average. As a result, blacks have become an extreme outlier — the only major racial group showing well-above-average approval.
Despite launching his presidency with a large majority of Hispanics approving of his job performance, along with most blacks, Obama has seen significant erosion in Hispanics’ support. As a result, while Hispanics’ approval of Obama was at one time 20 points higher than the national average, at this time it is just 7 points higher. Two significant slips in Hispanics’ approval of Obama were seen in 2010, perhaps linked with the president hedging on campaign promises to make immigration reform a priority. However, that decline has continued into 2011 as the nation’s focus has turned more to the economy and federal budget problems.