Here is Ronald Brownstein with some analysis from the latest Allstate/Atlantic Media Heartland Monitor Poll:
In the latest Allstate/Atlantic Media Heartland Monitor Poll, 56 percent of adults said they approved of Obama’s job performance, an increase of five percentage points just since June and his highest rating in the survey since July 2009. Fully 37 percent of adults said they strongly approved of Obama’s performance—a showing he exceeded on that measure only in the very first Heartland poll in April 2009.
To see President Obama leave the office with such a positive approval rating is bittersweet. When you compare Obama's current approval rating of 56% with President Bush's rating of 29% from around the same point in their Presidencies is a clear testament to how far we've come in the past eight years.
Of course the elephant in the room is the election, and how the Democratic Party was not able to effectively leverage the current President's approval into votes. This will no doubt effect the way people look back at the Obama Presidency, as many of his ideals and policies will be swept away with the new status-quo in Washington. There was a very good piece in The New Yorker last month in which President Obama addresses these issues.
If this election proved anything, it's that people vote more based on their feelings than on rewarding past performance. I think this is why so many pollsters got this election so wrong. When people start to vote based on how they are feeling, you can get wild results. This poll shows huge movement along partisan lines when it comes to how they feel about the track the country is currently on:
In the most recent Heartland Monitor Poll last June, 40 percent of Democrats described the country as moving on the right track; that skidded to just 18 percent now. The share of Republicans convinced it’s on the right track, meanwhile, soared from 11 percent in June to 61 percent now. And the number among Independents improved as well, doubling from an anemic 17 percent in June to a still-modest 34 percent. Likewise, while just under one-fourth of non-white adults in the new poll describe the country as headed the right way—essentially unchanged from June—the share of college-educated whites feeling positive about the nation’s direction bumped from 28 percent to 42 percent. Whites without a college education, Trump’s core constituency from the outset, recorded even greater gains, from 15 percent in June to 42 percent now. Those blue-collar whites haven’t expressed nearly as much optimism about the country’s direction at any point since the very first Heartland Monitor Poll nearly eight years ago. The share of whites older than 50 who say the country is on the right track also more than doubled since June.
These numbers seem obvious when you take into the account the election results, but I think it's important to take note of the optimism within the Republican party on the eve of a Trump Presidency. This huge jump in tracking numbers means one thing, huge expectations.
I'm particularly interested to see how the numbers between college educated whites, and blue-collar whites compare six months from now. We have an incoming President who has simultaneously balked at free-trade agreements, and has called for deregulation on Wall Street. Someone who has promised to drain the swamp, while installing heads of giant banking and oil concerns into leadership positions in the executive. Mr. Trump is trying to be all things to all of his people, at some point promises are going to be broken, we'll see what part of his base abandons him first.
It takes years, if not decades, to get a full handle on the the effect a President had while in office. Time is the great equalizer. I have a sneaking suspicion that Obama's approval numbers will only go up in the years to come. He helped to steer the country out of the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression and came closer than any other President to getting us to Universal Health Care. I think of all the things he's accomplished while in office those will be the two things that we really remember.