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Obama has strong edge over Congress in job approval: poll

Updated: 2016-04-26 10:58

Obama has strong edge over Congress in job approval: poll

US President Barack Obama delivers a speech during his visit to Hanover, Germany April 25, 2016. [Photo/Agencies]

WASHINGTON - US President Barack Obama continues to maintain a wide lead in approval over the vastly unpopular US Congress, a Gallup poll released Monday found.

In fact, if maintained, the 34-percentage-point gap between Obama's 49 percent job approval rating thus far in 2016 and the 15 percent average approval rating for Congress would be the widest of Obama's presidency -- and one of the largest Gallup has measured since 1981, Gallup said.

Obama's popularity edge over Congress is far from typical for recent presidents. Former President George W. Bush's approval rating averaged 12 points higher than congressional approval across his two terms in office, from 2001 to 2008, according to Gallup.

Former President Bill Clinton held an 18-point advantage over Congress in job approval from 1993 to 2000, while Former President Ronald Reagan held a 13-point lead between 1981 and 1988 (with no congressional ratings in 1984 and 1985), Gallup found.

Only Former President George H.W. Bush (Bush the elder) matches Obama in outperforming Congress in public approval, according to Gallup polling between 1990 and 1992. However, that is partly a reflection of Bush's extraordinarily high ratings stemming from the first Iraq War, known as the Gulf War, in the second and third years of his term, Gallup found.

Obama entered office with a significant advantage in popularity over Congress. But that gap has persisted long past his honeymoon period and could well emerge as one of the defining features of his presidency.

However, Obama's favorable rating is not unusually high relative to his job approval, at least compared with past presidents. The more important factor could be the extraordinarily high job approval he receives from Democrats, reflecting the strong political polarization in the country.

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