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Readers give Obama poor grades

President Barack Obama delivered his final State of the Union address Tuesday night. The speech, which came less than a month before the first 2016 presidential contests in Iowa and New Hampshire, struck an optimistic tone.

Most respondents to this week’s RBJ Daily Report Snap Poll, however, disapprove of Obama’s overall job performance as president, though the results varied when divided by political affiliation.

Among all respondents, 59 percent disapproved. But among those who identified themselves as Democrats, the president’s approval rating was 84 percent, with 48 percent of them strongly approving. Conversely, 84 percent of Republicans disapprove, with 64 percent of those saying they strongly disapprove.

Obama’s speech touted the nation’s resurgent economy. Last Friday, the government released new data showing nearly 300,000 jobs were added in December, while the unemployment rate held steady at 5 percent—half the October 2009 rate—for the third straight month.

According to the White House, businesses have now added 14.1 million jobs over 70 straight months—extending the longest streak on record. Critics say, however, that the recovery from the Great Recession is one of the weakest ever, with low labor force participation and stagnant wages.

When asked to rate the president’s handling of the nation’s economy, 58 percent disapprove, with 39 percent of those strongly disapproving. This compares to nearly a quarter who strongly approve.

Before Obama’s second term started, nearly two-thirds of RBJ Snap Poll respondents said they disapproved of President Barack Obama’s performance during his first term in office. The plurality—44 percent—said they strongly disapproved.

More than 1,010 readers participated in this week’s poll, conducted Jan. 11 and 12, before Obama delivered his State of the Union address.

Do you approve or disapprove of President Barack Obama’s overall job performance?
Strongly approve: 21%
Approve: 20%
Disapprove: 14%
Strongly disapprove: 45%

Among Republicans:
Strongly approve: 7%
Approve: 8%
Disapprove: 20%
Strongly disapprove: 64%

Among Democrats:
Strongly approve: 48%
Approve: 36%
Disapprove: 6%
Strongly disapprove: 10%

Do you approve or disapprove of the president’s handling of the nation’s economy?
Strongly approve: 24%
Approve: 19%
Disapprove: 19%
Strongly disapprove: 39%

What is your political affiliation?
Democrat: 22%
Republican: 31%
Non-affiliated: 41%
Other: 6%

For information on how the Snap Polls are conducted, click here.

The man entered the office with no practical experience for what the job involved and will be leaving in the same fashion—not understanding how our economy works and how the objective should always be to have less government intervention into the lives of the citizenship.
—Richard Phelps, Victor

President Obama looks at the long picture, not trying to satisfy the pundits and critics, but has put in place laws and initiatives that will help the people of this nation in the long run. I approve of him 100 percent.
—Bette Collier

I admire the president’s persistence to achieve for America. I am embarrassed, appalled and distressed by the behavior of my fellow Republicans as they have let a self-serving quest for power overwhelm their elected responsibility to cooperatively govern. The president has performed admirably throughout.
—Dorver Kendig, Webster

The worst president in our country’s history. When he said “change,” he meant it. Many did not understand that he really meant radical change. I fear for the future good of the people of this country. He had ruled as a dictator and none have stopped him from achieving his goal of transformation.
—Diane Hainsworth

What reasonable person could argue with the success of the Obama presidency? The numbers, according to FactCheck.org in October 2015, are impressive: Under Barack Obama, the economy has added nearly 8.4 million jobs. Corporate profits are at record levels. Stock prices have more than doubled. And nearly 15 million fewer people lack health insurance coverage. Thanks, Obama!
—Mike Bergin, president, Chariot Learning

If the GOP had put U.S.A. ahead of trying to destroy the president, we’d be much better off. As it is, things are much better today than at the end of eight years of George W. Bush.
—Carlos Mercado

For someone who was in a position to write a great legacy for his presidency, he seemed to spend most of his life balancing on a fence.
—Jim Harney

Following the potential economic collapse in 2008, the U.S.A. is on a reasonable path compared to most other developed nations—even with a Congress whose sole (stated) agenda was to ensure that Obama accomplished as little as possible.
—Michael Shacket

President Obama has done a lot for our nation whether people want to admit it or not. I remember being laid off in December 2008 and being out of work for nine months. … Now, there are more openings in my line of work (marketing and development/fundraising) than ever before. President Obama could have done a lot more if Congress were a little more cooperative in helping to take care of our nation.
—Shaunta Collier-Santos, LandNPR Productions

Our country is worse off in every measurable category since President Obama took office seven years ago, and I predict more of the same for his remaining year. We have a stagnant economy and terrible race relations at home. Obamacare is now in effect and seen for what it really is, and no one wants it. The U.S. has lost stature in much of the world. All things the president said he would make better are worse. Instead of being a healer, he has been a divider.
—George Thomas, Ogden

Despite what the right-wing pundits will say, history will view the presidency of Barack Obama very favorably. He would have accomplished much more without the obstructionist lower chamber.
—Greg Reynolds, East Rochester

Democrats and the GOP need to announce the passing of impeachment proceedings just prior to Obama’s State of the Union addresses! You would then have the support of all “Demlicans” who are Conservatives and be a step in the right direction—for the Democrats and the GOP.
—G. Palis

He has personally done more damage to the U.S.A. than any other president in history.
—Mark Williams

Worst president in history because he is driven by a failed ideology. I would make a list of his positive accomplishments, but there aren’t any. Negatives: 1. Obamacare raised costs for my business by 100 percent. 2. Weakened military (one of his goals, maybe on positive list for some people). 3. Iran nuclear deal: a great deal for Iran. It allows them to build a bomb and missiles. Gives them billions to support terrorists. Nothing in return for U.S.A. 4. Doubled national debt. 5. Under Obama policies, Wall Street has grown bigger and richer, while the working man, retired people and small business owner are poorer. 6. Benghazi. 7. Divisive, anti-police rhetoric falsely undermines law enforcement. 8. IRS scandal. My fingers are getting cramps and I’m only about 10 percent finished.
—Dennis Ditch

Check the latest Bloomberg article, which you shared in your Morning Roundup. No president is perfect, but given what President Obama faced when entering the White House, he deserves great credit for getting this country back on its feet in so many ways. Even Obamacare is not perfect, but who else ever made any effort to fix a health care system that was failing fast.
—Bob Moline

His foreign policy has put the world in danger. Libya is an example. The leader was ousted and no plan was in place to support a peaceful transition. The release of detainees from Gitmo who show up involved in terrorist groups is evidence of his poor judgment. The fact that a so-called constitutional lawyer would time and time again circumvent the democratic process we are founded on by circumventing the legislative branch and rule by executive orders is evidence that he does not respect the Constitution. He has never had to run a business in order to support himself and employees but has always worked on money from others in the form of grants or taxes collected. His livelihood wasn’t at risk if he made a poor decision. His idea of change is from a democracy to an oligarchy.
—Tom Walpole

There are so many “moving parts” in this puzzle, it is extremely difficult to come to any conclusion without all the facts!
—J.A. DePaolis, Penfield

Obama has brought us a plethora of minimum wage jobs at the expense of manufacturing jobs being exported under the guise of free trade agreements. He’s a great orator but a lousy manager and foreign policy expert.
—Hal Gaffin, Fairport

President Obama could have done much more, if our Congress wasn’t so racist! We need term limits for all politicians.
—Dave Kaspersin, Dynamic Recording Studio

I am "an American" first and a "Republican" second. I vote for whomever I feel can do the best job as president of our great country regardless of party affiliation. I did not vote for our current president on either occasion because I didn’t believe him to be the right man for the job and he proved me right. I have never seen anyone, let alone an American president, demonstrate such a blatant case of denial of what is going on in the real world. Calling the shootings in San Bernardino a case of "workplace violence" is an insult to the intelligence of most people. Trading a "deserter" for five Taliban officers and shortly thereafter paying billions of dollars to a terrorist nation that cannot be trusted to discontinue its attempts to build a nuclear weapon. Throw in the disrespect and distrust that most countries now have for the U.S. and its nonexistent foreign policy and this administration’s claim that "global warming" is our biggest threat and you have denial.
—Paul Anken

Regardless of political affiliation, just ask these questions and it will be very obvious about his performance. 1. Are you better off compared to eight years ago? 2. Is the country any safer compared to eight years ago? 3. Do we have more or less riots and protests compared with eight years ago? 4. Do we have more or less mass shootings compared with eight years ago? 5. Do we have more or less racial tensions compared with eight years ago? Let these answers speak for themselves.
—Patrick Ho

I voted twice for Barack Obama and I have no regrets. He started out in January 2009 with the economy reeling from the worst recession since the "Great Depression," with the Republican leader of the Senate (Mitch McConnell) vowing to make certain he’s a one-term president. Fortunately for the country, he was wrong. If we look at some of Obama’s accomplishments—without a single Republican vote in support of any of them—it’s no surprise that we’re in a constant state of a stalemate. I for one can’t imagine what our country would be like if the "Tea Party " were in charge. Some of the things that would be different would be: 1. The auto industry would no longer be the power it is today. 2. Millions of Americans would be without health insurance. 3. China’s agreement to cap carbon emissions would be gone. 4. Cuba’s new open relations with U.S.A., etc., etc. would not have happened. Now I recognize that there’s an opposing view, however I contend that Obama’s leadership has taken us in the right direction.
—Peter Bonenfant, Fairport

Obama was supposed to reach across the aisle. No such luck. Obama faulted Bush for spending, yet Obama has raised the national debt by more than all previous presidents together. Obama forced a health care system down our throats. The labor participation rate is far above the deceptive unemployment rate. The old joke of the Clinton administration can go for the Obama Administration too. “Obama created 14 million jobs. And I have two of them.”
—Clifford Jacobson M.D., Vanguard Psychiatric Services P.C.

He is the worst president since Franklin Pierce (maybe even worse than him). There are so many specifics that it would take pages to list them all. In short, he has ruptured his oath by ignoring the separation of powers, refused to defend the country against Muslim terrorists, allowed our country to become a laughing stock, and allowed his fetish-like penchant for income confiscation and redistribution to destroy our economy and create unprecedented internal animosity. We have been living under a leftist dictator. But, here’s the thing. We need to have someone really on top of his game as the next president. This country is so screwed up that it will take the best we’ve got. We can’t give in to our anger and frustration and put a TV clown with a big mouth into office. We need someone a lot more serious than that—or this country is finished.
—Jim Cronin

Barack Obama has done more damage than any other president in United States history and it is no accident. His parents and grandfather were leftists. In fact, his grandfather introduced a young Barack Obama to his friend, Frank Marshall Davis, one the most notorious American communists in history. Davis was so toxic to the American communist party he voluntarily exiled himself from Chicago to Hawaii. Frank Marshall Davis started the indoctrination of Obama as his mentor. Davis was no ordinary communist he was Soviet Union style Marxist. Obama’s inner circle has consistently been comprised of leftists and Marxists. From leftist Valerie Jarrett born in Iran to Columbia professor Rashid Khalidi an apologist for the terrorist PLO. Obama’s goal was to fundamentally change America, and he is accomplishing that. Obamacare is was one of the biggest tax increases in American history. The Supreme Court legitimized Obamacare by classifying it as a tax. The result of Obamacare is higher premiums, high deductibles, rationing, loss of doctors, poorer quality care, etc., and eventually insolvency. His economic policies produced the slowest recovery in American history; and yet by the time he leaves office the national debt will have almost doubled. Although the official unemployment rate is low, the labor participation rate is near the lowest in almost 40 years. What really drove the economy is the monetary policy of the Federal Reserve which has compromised its balance sheet. But that’s another story. Obama’s foreign policy has been a disaster in Egypt, Syria, Libya, Ukraine, etc. and at the same time has disrespected our biggest ally in the Middle East, Israel. The fast and furious scandal perpetrated by his Justice Department which put guns in the hands of drug lords in Mexico in order to discredit the NRA and guns rights. Obama’s support of illegal aliens and sanctuary cities is malfeasance at best. The Environmental Protection Agency and National Labor Relations Board is issuing an unbelievable amount of damaging leftist regulations which in some cases circumvents the Constitution and Congress. The IRS scandal was also under Obama’s watch. The military morale is at its low point because of Obama’s directives and actions. Obama also has stimulated more racial divide and have made police work much more dangerous because of his actions and rhetoric. What Obama has done well is to produce chaos which is the strategy of a Marxist which he learned at an early age. Yes, Obama has been an American disaster.
—John Rynne

It will be ironic how the same "NObama" critics will be yelling "save us!" if they elect Donald Trump.
—John Costello

I am certain, based upon past comments in this periodical, that the vast majority of those who respond to this Business Journal’s poll will view Obama unfavorably. That is unfortunate, as the other possible options—McCain/Romney—would not have brought our country back from the brink of financial ruin as successfully as Obama has. Few remember how bad things were for the American economy in late 2008/early 2009. I doubt that other leaders would have provided the steady economic turnaround required, which has seen the stock market increase by more than 10,000 points and business has seen the kind of consistent economic growth required for proper planning. Aren’t we tired of the constant boom and bust cycles? Has it been that harmful to be asked to be "citizens" and contribute to this country, to believe in science, be a little more concerned about the working poor, our environment, our children’s education rather than the "big short" greed that got us into our economic mess? Obama has provided thoughtful leadership to this country, as much as you can ask of any individual person. My hope is that those who support any of the current Republicans seeking the presidency—that they attempt to find someone with the intelligent, consistent, ethical, but business savvy approach to leading our country’s economy. Let me know when you find that leader among the current potential nominees. Until next January, I will continue to respect and appreciate Barack Obama as our president.
—Michael L. Harf

President Naive? He isn’t as bad as James Buchanan, who was on duty when the Civil War began, although he is toward that end of the spectrum. He can brag about the economy all he wants—it is more to do with the Fed than the president. What else does he want to brag about? Health care? We should have universal health care. We should not have what he shoved down our throats. Defense? Which country on the planet do we have better relations with now than we did eight years ago? Iran and Saudi Arabia are going at it. Syria west to Pakistan—a mess. Russia is in Ukraine, Crimea and now Syria. Safety from terrorism? Yes, no 9/11s, but our news is all about terrorism every day and our psyche has been terrorized since he took office. Tax reform? None. Relationship with Congress? You must be joking! Gun control? We don’t have it because he cannot get along with Congress—about anything! Infrastructure rebuilding? A lot of talk, bridges still falling down. Employment? Only if we want to brag about low paying jobs and a decrease of overall participation in the workforce. Education reform? Rochester has a 39 percent high school graduation rate. Enough said. I have to stop now; it is depressing me.
—Jay Birnbaum

1/15/2016 (c) 2016 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email rbj@rbj.net.


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