President Obama had the most polarizing second year in the White House of any of his predecessors since President Dwight D. Eisenhower, according to the Gallup organization.
Gallup reviewed the partisan approval gaps between Democrats and Republicans during presidential second years and found that Obama's 68 percentage point gap is the largest since 1953.
The only president who came close to that gap was Ronald Reagan, a president whose leadership qualities Obama has openly said he admires. Reagan's second year gap between the approval of Republicans and Democrats was 56 percent.
Like Obama, Reagan also confronted a severe recession at the start of his presidency which may help to explain some of the gap.
Obama might take some solace from the knowledge that two presidents whose presidencies aren't normally seen as successful, Richard Nixon and Jimmy Carter, had significantly smaller gaps than his, 41 percent and 29 percent, respectively.
Get out beyond the second year and the picture changes. Gallup notes that President George W. Bush had a partisan gap exceeding 70 percent in the later years of his presidency.
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Though Obama's first- and second-year ratings rank among the most polarized of all presidential years, Bush had three years with a larger gap in party ratings. In Bush's fourth year in office — the year he was re-elected — there was an average 76-point gap in approval ratings of him between Republicans and Democrats.
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