Obama thinks he had a very good year. The public isn’t so sure.

Obama thinks he had a very good year. The public isn’t so sure.

By al­most all tra­di­tion­al met­rics, the White House should be cel­eb­rat­ing his 2015 in­stead of of­fer­ing the sub­dued and meas­ured de­fense seen from Pres­id­ent Obama at his end-of-the-year press con­fer­ence. After all, the usu­al num­bers are good—un­em­ploy­ment rate down, job cre­ation up, in­fla­tion low, GDP up, gas prices de­clin­ing. Only the stock mar­ket, which will end the year slightly down, is in neg­at­ive ter­rit­ory.

To add to a bullish ap­prais­al for the pres­id­ent’s agenda, the year saw him pre­vail on some of his top pri­or­it­ies—pro­tect­ing Obama­care, achiev­ing a nuc­le­ar deal with Ir­an, reach­ing an in­ter­na­tion­al cli­mate agree­ment, and push­ing through his rap­proche­ment with Cuba. The pres­id­ent can also point to the low­est “Misery In­dex”—adding un­em­ploy­ment with in­fla­tion—since Harry Tru­man was pres­id­ent. The cur­rent 5.3 Misery In­dex would nor­mally guar­an­tee high ap­prov­al.

But these are not nor­mal times and tra­di­tion­al met­rics don’t tell the whole story. In­stead, these are times of wide­spread na­tion­al fear of ter­ror­ism and anxi­ety over the avail­ab­il­ity of good jobs. So the pres­id­ent con­cludes 2015 mired in the polling doldrums, his ap­prov­al rat­ing stuck just about where it was when he star­ted the year. And, with the na­tion even more po­lar­ized than be­fore as it weath­ers a nasty fight to elect the next pres­id­ent, there is no path vis­ible to push Obama’s rat­ings above 50 per­cent.

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