Ex-Obama Aide ‘Skeptical’ Approval Ratings Will Stay Over 50 Percent

Key ally Bill Burton says country is too polarized for high approval ratings

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President Barack Obama waves as he boards Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Feb. 4, 2013, prior to traveling to Minnesota to talk about gun control.

One last item I didn't get a chance to pull out of yesterday's Atlantic/National Journal post-State of the Union event but which struck me as interesting: Former top Obama aide Bill Burton said that he's "skeptical" about whether the president's approval rating will stay above 50 percent, simply because the country is so polarized.

[Check out our editorial cartoons on President Obama.]

Burton, who was deputy press secretary in the White House before running the Obama-allied Priorities USA super PAC during the election, was asked about how long Obama can sustain a 50+ approval rating (as of this writing he's at 51.2 in Real Clear Politics's average of polls) in the absence of more positive economic news.

I'm skeptical that the president's approval rating will stay over 50 percent, just because we're in such a polarized point. You would think that the president's approval rating would be way higher than that right now. … I think the president's approval rating will probably stay within the band that it has been, which is about 45 to 53 percent—besides post-bin Laden—regardless of what happens in Congress.

Give Burton credit for answering the question with a realistic view of the politics of the day. It's a somewhat surprising and more than a little depressing admission, however, and a damning statement on the state of our political system.

  • Read Ron Bonjean: Obama Declares War on the GOP in the State of the Union Speech
  • Read Nancy Pfotenhauer: What Obama Got Wrong in the State of the Union
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