Pres. Obama's Legacy Tied to Disapproval Ratings

Updated on January 25, 2017
Pres. Obama honors Vice Pres. Joe Biden
Pres. Obama honors Vice Pres. Joe Biden | Source

Obama supporters face skepticism and disapproval in selling his legacy

As Pres. Barack Obama and Democrats struggle to define his legacy and mainstream media struggles to discredit President-elect Donald Trump’s incoming administration, Obama’s failures overshadow his achievements. What is the Obama administration’s greatest achievement? Many just scratch their heads and shrug when asked. However, when asked about his failures, conversation flows.

Supporters of the outbound president would say Obamacare is his legacy baby, but not so fast. The truth is that most people think Obamacare is one of the administration’s failures according to the average of last year's CNN/ORC polling. The polls conclusively show that 55.5% of Americans disapprove of Obama’s handling of healthcare. With only 42.5% approving and Congress and President-elect Trump vowing to repeal it, Obamacare is at best a short-lived, unpopular legacy for Obama Only 1% in the survey had no opinion.

Liberal Democrats and Obama supporters are eager to push climate change policy as an Obama legacy. However, Americans, by 47-to-45%, disapprove of the way Obama handled climate change. In the polling average, 8% had no opinion.

Mr. Obama’s job performance also polls negative. The average of CNN/ORC polling shows 50.2% of Americans disapprove of the way Obama handled his job as president while 46.7% approve. The survey showed 3.2% had no opinion.

Another foretelling question in the poll was whether policies being proposed by Barack Obama would move the country in the right direction or the wrong direction. Here Mr. Obama fared even worse than in his job approval. While 43.5% of Americans think the countries on the right track, 53.5% believe the president has put the country on the wrong track. 3.5% had no opinion.

On the economy, a majority of 52% of Americans disapprove of Obama’s handling of the country’s finances while 46.8% approve and 1% have no opinion. While many of Obama supporters cite decreasing unemployment as a legacy, Americans say many have left the job force entirely while others are making less money in their jobs. In any case, the administration cannot stake its claim on a vibrant economy, according to polls.

One of the Obama administration’s boldest foreign policy moves was the Iran Deal. Even though the administration touts this is a major accomplishment, Americans do not agree. When asked whether they approve or disapprove of the way Barack Obama is handling the U.S. relationship with Iran, 53% disapproved 41.3% approved and 3.7% had no opinion. Making matters worse, the administration was relentlessly chastised in the press for gathering billions of dollars in unmarked bills, loading them onto unmarked airplanes and giving the money to Iran, ostensibly to settle financial issues from the 1970s during the Iranian hostage era.

In terms of overall foreign policy, Mr. Obama is once again in negative territory. A significant majority (56% of Americans) disapprove of Mr. Obama’s handling of foreign affairs while 41.8% approve and 2% have no opinion, according to the polls. When the U.S. military tracked down and killed Osama bin Laden during his first term, Mr. Obama received a bump in polls; however, his favorable ratings disappeared when violence, chaos and mayhem spread across the Middle East as Arab Spring, ISIS beheadings and slaughters, and the Syrian War made international headlines on a daily basis.

One of Obama’s original campaign promises was to close GITMO when Democrats held majorities in both houses of Congress. GITMO is the detention facility on Guantánamo Bay, Cuba where dangerous terrorists captured by U.S. troops are held. While Mr. Obama succeeded in releasing many dangerous terrorists from the facility, it remains open for business with only one week remaining in his presidency. The base was opened after the September 11, 2001 attack on New York City that left the twin trade towers in rubble and thousands of Americans dead.

Mr. Obama gets his worst ratings from his handling of ISIS with 61.5% of Americans disapproving of his handling and 34.5% approving and another 4.5% having no opinion. Early on, the Obama administration made headlines when the president called the Islamic State a junior varsity (JV) team. Since then, ISIS has taken credit for multiple terrorist attacks in the United States and thousands more around the world.

Democratic politicians trying to re-sell Mr. Obama’s policies to change public opinion after the fact could be vulnerable behind the President's nonexistent coattails as Hillary Clinton recently learned. The Democratic National Committee and others including media outlets are blaming Clinton’s loss on everything but Mr. Obama’s approval ratings, including placing the blame on Russia, the American FBI and tens of millions of “deplorable” Americans. Nevertheless, many analysts and political pundits have only to point out that Mr. Obama’s legacy is a negative one. The majority of Americans simply do not approve of his policies, and that IS his legacy.

What is Pres. Obama's greatest legacy achievement?

See results


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      D. Wirth 13 months ago

      Can't comment on any of your choices unless you add some. May I suggest the following:

      - he had none

      - destroying relations between the races

      - starting a war on cops

      - importing terriorists in large numbers

      - supporting terrorist organizations

      - allowing his wife and 500 of her closest friends to vacation lavishly at

      our expense

      - playing golf as Rome burns