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Snap Poll: Readers divided on Obama performance

With one week to go before Barack Obama leaves the White House, opinions on his performance as U.S. president remain polarized. Among roughly 1,200 respondents to this week’s RBJ Daily Report Snap Poll, most said they “strongly” approve or disapprove.

Obama’s overall approval rating is 48 percent in this week’s poll. That’s an improvement from two previous polls: In a Snap Poll conducted at the end of his first term, only 37 percent approved of his overall performance; a year ago, after his final State of the Union speech, 43 percent gave him a thumb’s up.

In the latest Gallup Poll, conducted Jan. 2 to 8, his job approval rating nationally was 55 percent.

The grave threat posed by the financial crisis and the Great Recession was the biggest challenge Obama faced when he became president eight years ago. In January 2009 alone, the U.S. economy shed more than a half-million jobs. Since the recovery began in early 2010, the nation has added 15.8 million jobs and the streak of 75 straight months of job growth is the longest on record. The White House says real hourly wages have grown faster than in any business cycle since the early 1970s.

Critics argue, however, that GDP growth during the recovery has been the weakest in the post-World War II era and that the unemployment rate of 4.7 percent—less than half the peak of 10 percent in October 2009—masks the fact that labor force participation has fallen.

Among this week’s Snap Poll respondents, views on Obama’s handling of the nation’s economy are split down the middle, with slightly more strongly approving than strongly disapproving.

Obama’s presidency also saw an end to U.S. involvement in the war in Iraq and enactment of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to extend health coverage to millions of uninsured Americans. Obama failed to achieve some key goals such as immigration reform, however, and his response to the civil war in Syria and the rise of the Islamic State has been faulted. The nuclear deal with Iran also has been highly controversial.

This week’s poll was conducted Jan. 9 and 10.

What is your opinion of President Barack Obama’s overall performance during his eight years in office?
Strongly approve  28%
Approve  20%
Disapprove  18%
Strongly disapprove  34%

Do you approve or disapprove of the president’s handling of the nation’s economy during his eight years in office?
Strongly approve  34%
Approve 16%
Disapprove 22%
Strongly disapprove  28%

What is your political affiliation?
Democrat  25%
Republican  30%
Non-affiliated  40%
Other  5%

For information on how the Snap Polls are conducted, click here. To participate in the weekly RBJ Snap Poll, sign up for the Daily Report at staging.rbj.net/dailyreport.


An empty suit, never had any qualification for the office. Kennedy put men on the moon; this guy put men in little girls’ bathrooms.
—Al Kempf, Fairport

There seem to be a lot of Obama haters, but when he took office, the wheels were coming off. I think folks have forgotten how dire the situation was. We were lucky to have a level-headed person as president during that time. I didn’t agree with everything he did, but it would be unrealistic to agree with all of a president’s choices no matter what the situation. He prevented us from going into a depression. Let’s hope we don’t end up back in that situation.
—Judy Palmieri, Rochester

Hands down the WORST president this country has ever had! I am more than happy to see him go. Our country is in far worse shape than when he came into office eight years ago, on many levels. The “affordable” care act is just one example.
—Marianne Jones

For the record: saved the banking industry, saved the auto industry, enacted health care for all, the Dow has moved from a low of 6,600 after his election to a near record 20,000, restored a sense of dignity to the office of the president, led the country for two terms without scandal, captured Bin Laden, and showed the world that diversity in leadership is something to be applauded—not feared. All in all, I think he has done a fantastic job.
—Dana Miller, Rochester City Council vice president

With time to reflect, I think we will come to see President Obama as a very good, if not great, president who succeeded in many ways despite near-record levels of partisan opposition. I hope very much that Donald Trump is successful over the next four years and that the country succeeds with him. However, I suspect that we will come to miss the steady and scandal-free White House of the last eight years.
—Mike Haugh

This president is the most racist president to ever hold the office. Everything he has done … has made this country weaker in every possible way. Economy, defense, immigration, does not support our law enforcement. Where do I stop? I could go on and on!
—Dan Morgan

Obama’s presidency has always been defined by his lack of experience. In many ways I’m reminded of the Carter years; he did the best he could, was driven by events. He took care of his blue states, but left many still struggling. So often I’m left thinking the U.S. is worse off today, on the world stage as well as at home. Nothing speaks louder than this last election with the choice the people made. Overall, a C+; not the worst, but at a time when we needed a leader, we got a junior manager.
—Daniel Herpst, Rochester

Well, had President Obama handled the fiscal crisis correctly, we wouldn’t be having such weak growth, and more jobs, at higher pay, would have been added. And how can you say that it is a positive that he ended the war in Iraq? In addition to the war NOT being ended, we still have troops (advisers) there. It’s a total mess; in fact, due to Obama’s policies and actions, the whole Middle East is a mess. Of course, health care reform has been a disaster the last eight years. The only positive thing I can think of that he’s done is pardon 16 turkeys. Oh, and those Thanksgiving turkeys too!
—Joseph Fabetes, Rochester

I thought Bill Clinton, who cheated and lied was a bad president … until Obama comes along.
—Patrick Ho


Who can look at the economic mess he inherited and see the numbers today and not give him an outstanding mark?
—Lois Camphausen

Given that he had to deal with a Republican Congress whose only goal was to defeat him in 2012 (per Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell) and then to elect a Republican replacement in 2016, I believe he did a good job. How ironic that the big infrastructure program that he wanted to boost the economy (and which the Republican Congress blocked) is now the key element of Trump’s economic plan!
—Paul E. Haney

I am most angered by Obama’s failure to stop the torture of our political prisoners, his increase in the deportation of immigrants, and his escalation of drone missile attacks on civilians. Whatever happened to his campaign slogan, “Change we can believe in”? He and his family did a wonderful job of setting an example of wholesome family life in the White House that we haven’t seen there in my memory. But that facade does not cover up his utterly violent and unwelcoming record.
—Ken Maher

President Obama is the most disastrous president in modern U.S. history. His economic policies produced the weakest economic recovery in modern history while almost doubling the national debt to $20 trillion. Obamacare was a disaster. The Supreme Court classified Obamacare as a tax. Thus, Obama is responsible for one of the largest tax increases in U.S. history. It stripped millions of middle-class people from their doctors and insurance policies they were comfortable with, created huge deductibles, created rationing, etc. It took $880 billion from seniors who worked all their lives and transferred it to inferior Medicaid programs to many people who don’t work. His Marxist background and anti-Israel venom is evident through his own words, actions, advisers and policies. His foreign, energy, military and immigration policies have done great damage. The many scandals such as Fast and Furious, Benghazi, IRS, Clinton’s server scandal, etc. I could write a book about his failures. Finally, he has created more racial divisiveness by his actions than any other president that I can remember. The sad thing is that most of the media has been his biggest cheerleader and don’t report the real story.
—John Rynne

Barack Hussein Obama was the worst president since WWII. Jimmy Carter might have been worse for the U.S. economy, but nobody holds a candle to the overall damage that Obama did to the USA. His failures internationally are epic! One has to question if he was intentionally trying to ruin the United States’ standing on the world stage or if he is that incompetent. Since he is not stupid, it stands to reason that it was indeed intentional. So what was his motivation? How about his skill at race relations … or supporting our police. Pathetic.
—Mark Williams

Obama railed against the national debt in 2008, then tripled it! He decried the state of race relations in America, then made them even worse. He flat out lied about his Obamacare health plan! He coddled extremist Iran and dissed democratic Israel. No sex scandals, good family man, apparently liked to play golf a lot, but a very ineffective president.
—George Thomas, Ogden

Worst president and leader we have had since Jimmy Carter. He degraded our social fiber, increased racial tensions, did nothing to improve the economy and lessened our standing as the world’s leader. I’m glad he’s leaving.
—John Bartolotto, Col. USA (Ret.)

President Obama is one of the better U.S. presidents. He pulled this country back from the worst economic crisis in our history. He fought for the rights of ALL Americans and he enabled health care options for those who most needed it. Was he perfect? No, because no human being is perfect. He was criticized by those on the right consistently yet he always maintained his dignity and his integrity. He is a true leader and he will be greatly missed especially as that bigoted, narcissistic, lying, thief-bully takes office in a few weeks. The bully and his minions will make every effort to undo the legacy of Barack Obama, but they will not succeed because they lack the integrity, grit and know-how to do that and because the #Resistance will fight them at every turn.
—M. Curtain, Rochester

History will not be kind to Barack Obama. His choice to remove American military forces from Iraq when the remaining Iraqi forces were obviously unprepared or lacked the will to fight directly led to the rise of ISIS. Of course, even with this, Barack chooses to misrepresent this group of criminals by changing ISIS to ISIL (S = Syria; L = Levant). Domestically, the economy is on life support requiring constant Fed micromanagement of interest rates. Growth is almost non-existent. Unemployment has finally bottomed out, but the obvious elephant in the room ignored by mainstream media are those who have dropped out of the labor pool.
—Jim Bongard

The Obama Administration inherited horrible economic conditions and international complications and improved our position across the board domestically and abroad. Imagine how good we’d have it by now without that obstructionist Congress.
—Mike Bergin, Chariot Learning

We have been in a political quagmire for at least the last four administrations. Unless you like bureaucratic red tape, regulatory growth, redistribution, warmongering, imperialism, paternal governance protecting us from ourselves, and the overall progressive mantra being implemented, it’s hard to understand what you possibly could have liked about this administration (and certainly the last). The only thing that is hard to understand is, if you hated George Bush, then why did you like Barack Obama? They both increased regulation, increased the size of government, increased spending, increased taxes, increased foreign intervention, increased bombing, increased government control over health care, education, financial markets, manufacturing markets, real estate markets … they were basically the same guy. It apparently had more to do with whether you put an R or a D next to your name. Oh, and I wouldn’t worry about anything changing. We’ll get more of the same for next four years, or maybe the next 40 years.
—Kenya Burn-Moore, Rochester

The Obama legacy includes “Occupy Wall Street,” “Black Lives Matter,” ISIS, Russian cyberattacks, historic slow growth, and wage inequality. These came about as a reaction to the conditions under his administration. I think he was a harmful executive to those he was to represent.
—Dom Pullano

I consider Mr. Obama a failed politician (not president) due to his refusal to approach the opposition on almost every issue. If one looks back to LBJ and how he came up through the ranks in Washington and was able to get what his administration wanted done by working with the opposition, it wasn’t always pretty but that’s politics—and that is what Mr. Obama never got a firm handle on.
—Michael Venturo

If only the GOP had cooperated with him even modestly. Instead, they did everything they could to prevent him from doing good things like infrastructure improvements. Now we have to endure the most unqualified man to ever come into the office.
—Carlos Mercado

A presidency by edict, press release, opaque “transparency,” selective constituency support, more travel expense for fundraising and vacation than for diplomacy will be recorded appropriately in history despite a fawning present day media.
—Bob Miglioratti

Mr. President Naive. He is a man who believed himself smarter and better than those he governed without understanding that governance comes from being a part of those that are governed. What’s this “recovery” thing? The rich got richer. The poor got less well off. The country hasn’t had a fiscal policy in his entire eight years. The unemployment rate went down; the underemployment rate went up. Good jobs go unfilled because the underemployed are not being trained to fill those jobs. The bottom of the employment ladder is several steps closer to being replaced by technology. Government spending and government spending smartly and strategically has never been less the case. Relationships between the Congress and the Executive Branch have never been lower. Don’t let him blame Republicans. The president is the executive of the Executive Branch and the president is supposed to be the adult in the room. He waited for eight years for them to get along with him. How did that go, Mr. President? Name one nation with a better relationship with the United States in 2017 than it had in 2009. Russia and punk nations habitually hack our computers because they can treat us with impunity and get away with it. Family structure is less structured. Police are being murdered; children are being shot in gang crossfire and no one is stepping up to stop it. Schools? A 39% graduation rate speaks to our schools and to the divide between rich and not rich.
—Jay Birnbaum

Just like you can’t, in all good conscience, blame the president for anything that might have gone right during their term(s), you can’t blame them for everything that has gone wrong. A few things you can attribute directly to President Obama are 1) the deal with Iran, and the deaths and grief that it will cause when Iran becomes a nuclear power, 2) the dramatic deterioration in race relations as highlighted by several recent surveys, 3) decrease in respect for authority, particularly police. In the end, history will be the judge, but it is likely that President Obama will be remembered for not being remember for anything. Except being the first black president.
—Ed Tarbush, Penfield

Eight years of Obama’s policy of “leading-from-behind” has resulted in a chaotic and dangerous world with numerous bad players like Russia, China, Iran, North Korea and ISIS either filling the void with violence or territorial hegemony. His agonizing penchant for apologizing for America has gladly come to an end. No nation has done more for the greater good of the modern world than the U.S. The president’s lack of leadership is also reflected in his complete lack of support of law enforcement during the ongoing issues of race and community policing during his tenure. The unprecedented gun violence in his hometown of Chicago is indicative of his approach. The U.S. economy, while better than when he took office, has floundered with stagnant GDP, a dismal labor participation rate, and nothing tangible to show for his stimulus plan. The complete repudiation of his platform is reflected in the presidential election, despite his fevered campaigning for a continuation of his regime. The net result is a world more embattled, more dangerous, and less stable as a direct result of his lack of U.S. presence on the world stage. “Hope & Change” sure sounded good at the time.
—Paul Hohensee

President Obama’s record is pretty good considering he took office during the Great Recession, the largest domestic and international economic downturn since the Great Depression, and includes: 1) a stimulus package that a large majority of economists say stopped a much worse economy; 2) when he took office we were losing about 750,000 jobs a month and after eight years about 10 million jobs were created; 3) when he took office about 100,000 people a WEEK were losing their homes; 4) the stock market has more than doubled;5) in the last three years real wages have finally started to rise; 6) he stopped or greatly reduced two wars , one based on fixed, false intelligence, and is near leading an end to Middle East territory held by ISIS; 7) brought health care to over 25 million, something that has been tried by presidents since Teddy Roosevelt;  8) saved Medicare for at least a dozen years with the ACA putting a less than 1 percent tax on incomes over $200,000—watch what happens to Medicare when this tax is rescinded; 9) he saved our auto industry, the heart of manufacturing, saving about a million and a half middle class jobs, and it is doing very well; and 10) got rid of the Bush (temporary tax cuts) for those making over $400,000 a year while adding another tax cut for the middle class as well as a temporary tax holiday for Social Security taxes. This is just a partial list, but considering he never had a filibuster-proof majority, the gutting of the Voting Rights Act, over 800 polling places closed in cities and inner cities, the president (and American people) being filibustered an unprecedented 400 times on what they voted for, it is impressive overall. Add the racist attacks that included the birthers and the percentage of people who lost their minds and made their own facts because a black guy was president, and it is even more impressive. It will not take long before this next president makes Obama look much greater.
—Jim Bertolone, president emeritus, Rochester & Genesee Valley Labor Federation, AFL-CIO

My prediction: The integrity of the Obama Administration will be in stark contrast to what’s ahead. I foresee lots of blaming, name calling and lots of “You’re Fired” with little or no personal responsibility taken.
—Judy Gardner

Our president did an outstanding job in spite of the Republicans’ actions to block all legislation and appointments.
—Richard Stankevich

President Obama is arguably the worst president of the last 50 years, if not the worst in our history. His policies have diminished our country’s standing internationally and has made the world far less safe than even during the Cold War. Domestically, he has crushed the “can do” spirit that America has been known for since its inception. Additionally his actions have accelerated the path to insolvency by doubling the national debt and adding more to it during his eight years than all previous administrations combined. And the condition of race relations in our country have clearly worsened by the biased example the president has exhibited and perpetrated during his reign. The election is a clear repudiation of his policies. The Journal has once again exhibited quite a bit of bias in the way it frames the question. Is it any wonder that the public is skeptical of the media? Your preface to the question and phrasing of the “financial crisis and the Great Recession” don’t reflect history. One could make a very plausible argument that the condition of the country during the Carter administration was far worse than what Obama faced coming into office. Gas lines, oil shortages and mortgage rates around 18 percent all seem forgotten in your preface. And instead of referring to the economic performance during his tenure in almost glowing terms, why not mention the malaise that is reflected by 95 million people no longer even looking for work? Is it too much to ask that the RBJ be a bit more balanced?
—Keith B. Robinson, Diamond Packaging

 “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways…” (Not necessarily in “love” order): the Iran deal, the climate change agreement, the U.S.-Iraq Status of Forces Agreement, the red line in Syria, the shovel-ready jobs (Excel pipeline), Israel, Israel, Israel, the unemployment rate (versus labor participation rate), Fast and Furious, U.S.-Mexico Border, immigration (vetting of Muslim immigrants: “Are you a terrorist?”) , the Ukraine, ISIS, the Arab Spring, the Army, the Navy, the Air Force and the Marines, Black Panthers at voting booths, the Apology Tour, the Nobel Peace Prize for nothing, and “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. If you like your plan, you can keep your plan. How do you get a recovery which averages 1 percent per year? You take a recovery which would have been at 3 percent, over tax it down to 2 percent, and overregulate it down to 1 percent.
—Clifford Jacobson, M.D.; Vanguard Psychiatric Services PC

Obama is the worst president in the history of the United States.
—Jim Weisbeck Bloomfield


1/13/2017 (c) 2017 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email rbj@rbj.net.



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