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Louis Jacobson
By Louis Jacobson August 16, 2010

Matthew Dowd says Obama's approval ratings are in the low 40s

During the Aug. 15, 2010, edition of ABC's This Week with Christiane Amanpour, Matthew Dowd, a former political strategist for President George W. Bush, used poll numbers to explain President Barack Obama's relatively weak political position.

Obama's "approval numbers in this country are in the low 40s," Dowd said. "He's perceived as not able to handle all the major issues in this country right now. The vast majority of this country right now questions his leadership."

We thought we'd look at whether Dowd was right on the polling numbers.

We checked with the poll-analysis website pollster.com and found 16 traditional, live-caller telephone polls taken by media organizations or independent polling firms between mid July and mid August 2010. We excluded polls taken by automatic-dialing programs, by the Internet or by partisan firms. The polls we looked at included a sampling of either all adults or registered voters.

The two most recently released polls confirm Dowd's statement. A Gallup poll taken between Aug. 12 and Aug. 14, found a 42 percent approval rate, while a Fox News-Opinion Dynamics poll taken Aug. 10 to Aug. 11, 2010, found 43 percent approval.

But most polls in the past month have not been quite so low.

Among the five polls taken in the last week before the show aired, including the two cited above, Obama's approval rating averaged 45 percent. And that percentage has been remarkably consistent. Among the eight polls taken during the two weeks prior to the show, Obama's approval rating averaged better than 45 percent. Among the 13 polls in the three weeks prior to the show, he averaged slightly under 45 percent. And among the 16 polls from the month prior to the show, the average was, once again, 45 percent.

So over the course of the last month, Obama's approval rating in independent, traditional-format polls has consistently averaged approximately 45 percent -- that is, in the mid 40s, rather than the low 40s. However, the two most recent polls -- showing Obama's approval at 42 percent and 43 percent -- are smack in the middle of the low 40s. Whether these poll results are blips or the start of a new downward trend remains to be seen. For now, we'll give Dowd the benefit of the doubt and rate his statement Mostly True.

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Our Sources

Matthew Dowd, comments during the roundtable segment of ABC's This Week, Aug. 15, 2010

Pollster.com, summary of recent presidential approval poll results, accessed Aug. 15, 2010

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Matthew Dowd says Obama's approval ratings are in the low 40s

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