Barack Obama: A Highly Polarizing Figure

June 14, 2012, 4:00 PM GMT+0

(Week of 6/9/2012) After an initially erratic period during his first year in office, public opinion about President Obama quickly settled into a relatively stable position. As can be seen in the chart below, weekly approval measures for the president have not deviated too much in the last few years. To a large degree, Americans have made up their minds about Mr. Obama.

If there is one word to describe Americans’ opinions about the President, it is "polarized." In pooled results from the last four Economist/YouGov polls, 77% of Democrats approve of his job performance, while 92% of Republicans disapprove of it. But a large majority of independents also disapprove of his performance, a very ominous sign for the President.

Polarized attitudes toward the President go beyond job approval, however. Democrats and Republicans also diverge dramatically on how much they like Mr. Obama as a person, as well as on how sincere his public statements are (as the tables below show). They also differ with respect to the personal traits they ascribe to him. Democrats are much more likely to list adjectives such as "honest", "intelligent", "patriotic", and "strong" as words they would use to describe the President. Republicans, on the other hand, are more likely to list adjectives such as "arrogant" or "hypocritical" as words they would use to describe him.