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.