More Americans feel Barack Obama’s presidency divided the country than feel it brought people together, a new poll shows. Yet he leaves office held in high esteem by a solid majority.
Eight years after Obama’s historic election, just 27 percent see the U.S. as more united as a result of his presidency, according to an Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll conducted after the 2016 election. Far more — 44 percent — say it’s more divided.
Those figures underscore one of the key contradictions of Obama’s presidency. By and large, Americans like him. Yet, aside from the big “Obamacare” health care overhaul, he has been unable to translate that approval into congressional majorities to fulfill many of his goals.
“It’s one of the few regrets of my presidency — that the rancor and suspicion between the parties has gotten worse instead of better,” Obama said last January in his final State of the Union address.
Still, 57 percent say they view Obama favorably, putting him way ahead of his predecessor, George W. Bush, and on par with Bill Clinton at the end of their two terms. Clinton had the same 57 percent but Bush just 40, according to Gallup polling at the time. Bush’s father fared better, with 62 percent viewing him favorably at the end of his time in office, despite his failure to win a second term.
Just over half say Obama’s presidency has been great or good. Thirty-seven percent view him unfavorably.
Did he keep his promises? He did not, in the minds of 2 of 3 Americans, though 44 percent say he tried.
Obama has been labeled by many Republicans as the most divisive President in American history, and that was before Donald Trump was in the picture for Democrats to accuse. Did Obama purposefully divide America for his own political benefit?