US & Canada

Obama leaving with high approval rating

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Media captionBarack Obama: What would he have done differently?

Two new polls show President Barack Obama leaving office with one of the highest approval ratings for any departing US president.

Separate polls conducted by The Washington Post/ABC and CNN/ORC both found Mr Obama with 60% approval.

A majority approve of his economic policy, but polls show a deep divide between Democrats and Republicans.

The nation's first African American president will hold his final press conference later on Wednesday.

Only Presidents Ronald Reagan, Franklin D Roosevelt and Bill Clinton have handed over the White House keys with higher favourability ratings.


The paradox - Anthony Zurcher, BBC News, Washington

President Barack Obama is set to leave office with some of the highest popularity ratings in his presidency. The man who will replace him, despite having some of the lowest ratings of any incoming president, is poised to roll back much of his legacy.

A closer look at these recent surveys helps explain the apparent contradiction. The US is sharply divided along partisan lines, with Mr Obama touting high support among Democrats and low ratings with Republicans.

Throw in that voters in key Midwestern swing states feel more pessimistic about the state of the nation - many of whom backed Mr Obama in 2008 and 2012 and switched to Donald Trump in 2016 - and it's a recipe for a narrow presidential win for the Republican Party.

Mr Obama's reservoir of goodwill as he departs, like Hillary Clinton's popular vote victory in November, must be cold comfort for Democrats shut out of the Washington corridors of power.

In 2001 they were in a similar situation, with Bill Clinton riding an even higher wave of support, and it took them six years - and an unpopular war - to climb out of that political hole.


About a quarter (25%) of Americans view him as one of the greatest presidents, however about the same number (23%) view him as a poor president.

Among Democrats, Mr Obama has near-universal support (95%), however just 18% of Republicans approve of his eight years in office.

Mr Obama's approval continued to climb during the bitter 2016 presidential election, as views of the economy improved.

When Mr Obama took office in 2009 only 5% of Americans rated the economy as "great" or "good" according to the Washington Post's figures, and that number never rose about 20% during his first four-year term.

Although few now rate the economy as "excellent", those rating it as "poor" have dropped from 62% to 14% during Mr Obama's presidency.

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Image caption A poll out this week found Mr Trump with a 40% approval rating

On Tuesday a Washington-Post/ABC News poll found the President-elect Donald Trump has one of the lowest approval ratings of any incoming president in history.

He dismissed the poll as "rigged" after it was found that his 40% approval rating is lower than any arriving president since Jimmy Carter.


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