Barack Obama and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Year

Obama Sad

It’s not been a good year for Barack Obama.

Of course, the midterm elections during the sixth year of a two-term president’s time in office are historically bad for the president’s party. In 2006, Democrats defeated President George W. Bush’s party and picked up a net of six seats in the Senate and 31 seats in the House. The 1998 elections held steady for Republicans during President Clinton’s sixth year, and they kept majorities in both chambers.

In 1986, during President Reagan’s sixth year, Democrats picked up eight seats in the Senate, giving them control of the Senate, and gained a net five seats in the House, giving them a massive 258-177 majority. To give context, Republicans are expected to start the next Congress in January with 247 members to the Democrats’ 188 — and that’s historically high for Republicans.

But President Obama’s bad year doesn’t start and end with Election Day 2014. According to Gallup, which has been tracking presidential approval ratings for decades, 2014 is the first year where President Obama’s approval rating never eclipsed his disapproval rating, meaning he has not — at any point this year — had a net positive approval. He has been under water since August 2013 and has not recovered.

National Journal’s James Oliphant writes:

You can make a compelling case that 2014 was the worst year for President Obama since, well, the year before. And, in fact, the president spent much of this year trying to recover from some body blows he took in the final months of 2013, when, in short order, Congress rebuffed him on Syria and the federal health care exchange imploded.

Those setbacks ate away at Obama’s public support. According to Gallup, the president began 2014 with a 41 percent approval rating, and he’s ending it a tick or two higher. He’s also ending the year as a certified lame duck, facing two final years with a hostile Congress and the political conversation centering around the likes of Hillary Clinton, Jeb Bush, and Rand Paul.

But again, the bad news doesn’t stop there. The National Journal reports TEN events that perpetuated Obama’s terrible year, including his dismissal of ISIS as a serious threat, the prisoner swap of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl for the Taliban Five, ongoing revelations about the NSA spying on American citizens, and more…

National Journal attempted to salvage 2014 for Obama by providing a few “high notes” to the year, but even those fall flat when examining the entire year: the Ebola scare that really wasn’t, putting global warming on the “front burner” (an issue that isn’t likely to go anywhere in the next Congress), and a humorous interview with comedian Zack Galifianakis (really?).

And though 2014 was a bad year for President Obama (and the Democrats), don’t expect 2015 to be great for Republicans, who will control both chambers of Congress. Americans should expect clashes between the Legislative and Executive branches — with Republicans getting most of the blame for the continued gridlock.


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