Americans fall out of love … again.

The thrill has gone, to linger on would spoil it anyhow … for the party’s over now.

— Noël Coward

Presidential Approval

The chart above isn’t the descent of the Matterhorn … it’s the downward trajectory of Barack Obama’s approval ratings in the Gallup Poll since his reelection last year.

Descent of the Matterhorn (Edward Whymper)
No good end: Explorer Edward Whymper’s climbing team shortly after reaching the summit of the Matterhorn (1865).

So it is a descent of sorts.  And it’s beginning to look eerily similar to what befell George W. Bush and his poll numbers at roughly the same period in his presidency, as this comparative graph prepared by the Pew Research Center illustrates:

Presidential poll comparisonsOne can point to specific events during each administration that could be inflection points in the public’s changing perception of presidential performance:  The Iraq War surge … Hurricane Katrina … the Affordable Care Act rollout … the Benghazi Consulate attack … the NSA eavesdropping scandal and so forth.

But I wonder if it’s actually those elements … or is it more that we fickle Americans are prone to tire of our presidents after about the fifth year or so.

Hearing one speech or one press conference too many … or perhaps hearing a statement or two by the administration that doesn’t ring quite true.  It’s not a big step to go from those unpleasant interactions to simply tuning out.

Whatever it is, we’re probably in the midst of witnessing a break between the public and the Obama administration that’s here to stay for the remainder of the President’s term.

Of course, the chart above also reminds us that second term presidential popularity trends looked somewhat different if we dip back in history 15 years or further.

What are your thoughts on today’s developments?  Is this the “new normal” for Americans in our “instant gratification” age?  Or do you see the dynamics differently?  Feel free to share your comments with other readers here.

What Facebook Looks Like Today

Facebook's world mapBy now, everyone knows that Facebook has pretty much won the social media wars, as early entrant and rival MySpace hemorrhages employees as it tucks its tail between its legs and slinks away.

And Facebook itself is a good chronicler of the hyperactivity of Facebookers wordwide. Recently, it published some stats on “what 20 minutes on Facebook looks like.” Among the revelations:

 ~10.2 million comments uploaded every 20 minutes
 ~2.7 million photos uploaded
 ~2.0 million “friend” requests accepted
 ~1.8 million status updates posted
 ~1.6 million wall posts
 ~1.5 million event invites sent out
 ~1.3 million photos tagged
 ~1 million links shared

Fan designations (or “likes”) are now reaching stratospheric proportions for some celebrities. And who were the most popular in 2010 based the “most liked” status? The results show a major skew towards the younger generation … and toward entertainers rather than political, scientific or academic leaders:

 Lady Gaga: ~25 million people “like”
 Eminem: ~24 million people
 Megan Fox: ~20 million people
 Vin Diesel: ~19 million people
 Rihanna: ~19 million people

Where does President Barack Obama rank by comparison? He’s at ~17 million “likes” – right along with Bob Marley, Li’l Wayne, Justin Bieber and Shakira.

Personally, I found the trends in relationship status to be the most interesting. There were quite a few relationship changes … but perhaps not as many as you might expect considering that there are an estimated 600 million active users on Facebook these days.

For the record, here’s what happened with personal relationships in 2010:

 ~44 million people changed their status to “single”
 ~37 million changed their status to “married”
 ~28 million changed their status to “in a relationship”
 ~6 million changed their status to “engaged”
 ~3 million changed their status to “it’s complicated”

Notice that the number of people who migrated away from marriage were nearly equally matched by those becoming engaged or getting hitched. As the famous French saying goes, Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. (The more things change, the more they stay the same.)