President Barack Obama will leave office Friday with his highest approval rating since 2009, his presidency largely viewed as a success, and a majority saying they will miss him when he is gone.
A new CNN/ORC poll finds Obama’s approval rating stands at 60%, his best mark since June of his first year in office. Compared with other outgoing presidents, Obama lands near the top of the list, tranked only by Bill Clinton’s 66% in January 2001 and Ronald Reagan’s 64% in January 1989
. About two-thirds (65%) say Obama’s presidency was a success, including about half (49%) who say that was due to Obama’s personal strengths rather than circumstances outside his control.
Amid those glowing reviews, one-quarter of Americans (25%) say Obama is one of the nation’s greatest presidents, far outpacing the share who felt that way about other recent presidents as their terms ended (11% described Reagan that way, 10% Clinton, and 5% or fewer said so about either President Bush). Still, nearly as many (23%) call Obama a poor president, more than said so about Reagan, Clinton or the first president Bush, but well below the 46% who said George W. Bush was a poor president as he prepared to leave the White House.
That assessment of Obama’s presidency, as well as his approval ratings, are marked by sharp partisan divides. While 54% of Democrats consider Obama one of the greatest presidents, 54% of Republicans call him a poor president. Though he has earned near universal approval among Democrats (95% approve), just 18% of Republicans say they approve of how he handled the presidency. That gap explains the difference between Obama’s approval rating and those of the two former presidents who left office with higher marks.
Both Reagan and Clinton held approval ratings above 9-in-10 among their own partisans, yet their approval ratings among those in the opposing party outpaced Obama’s, with 39% of Republicans saying they approved of Clinton at the end of his term and 38% of Democrats approving of Reagan as he prepared to leave office.
Looking back at the critical issues of the Obama years, Americans give the President positive ratings for handling several issues that were central to his first run for office: the economy, foreign affairs and race relations among them.