A central theme of the Republican pitch against Hillary Clinton is that a presidency for her would amount to a “third term” for Barack Obama and the direction he set for the country.
But that argument could end up helping her more than it hurts her if she secures the Democratic nomination.
Obama’s numbers have been trending upward as the calendar counts down his last year in office.
The latest Gallup daily tracking poll on the president’s job approval, as of Tuesday, was 50% to 45% positive. For much of 2014 and 2015, his approval lagged in the low 40s — around 10 points lower than his disapproval.
Clinton has embraced much, if not all of, Obama’s legacy, calibrating its closeness depending, in part, on the audience. For example, she dropped his name often — as well as her role in his administration — while campaigning in Democratic primary states with large black populations.
The improvement is Obama’s approval rating is unusual for a president in his final year, said Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion.
One possible explanation, Miringoff told Newsday, is “the farcical nature of the primary season.” Also, Obama has been “making his case in a more electoral way,” with the 2016 campaign in mind.
“Clearly there’s a great sentiment for change — and there’s a great sentiment against the establishment — but Obama seems to be at least somewhat going counter that,” Miringoff said. “And that for Hillary Clinton is the best news you can point to.”