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Poll: 51 percent approve of Obama after first year

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Obama's first year in review
  • Poll: Obama's first-year approval rating averages 51 percent
  • Release of poll comes on one-year anniversary of inauguration
  • Former President Bush's approval rating was 83 percent after first year

Washington (CNN) -- As President Obama marks one year in the White House, an average of the most recent national surveys indicates that just over half of the public approves of how the president is handling his job.

According to a new CNN Poll of Polls, 51 percent of Americans give Obama a thumbs-up when it comes to his performance as president, with 42 percent saying they disapprove of the job he's doing. The survey was released Wednesday, the one-year anniversary of Obama's inauguration.

"Obama's average approval rating stayed above 60 percent until mid-June, and was at 55 percent as late as October," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "But since November, his weekly approval rating, on average, has hovered around the 50 percent mark."

This most recent CNN Poll of Polls is an average of four national surveys conducted in the past week: Fox News (January 12-13), ABC/Washington Post (January 12-15), CBS (January 14-15) and the Gallup Tracking poll (January 15-17). The Poll of Polls does not have a sampling error.

Video: Rep. on Obama's first year

So how does Obama rank compared with his most recent predecessors? George W. Bush's approval rating stood at 83 percent in January 2002, just four months after the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Bill Clinton held a 54 percent approval rating in January 1994. George H.W. Bush stood at 80 percent in January 1990, and 49 percent of the public approved of the job Ronald Reagan was doing in January 1982.

"The historical comparison reminds us that a president's first-year approval ratings have little predictive value when forecasting the next election," Holland said. "The elder George Bush had a great first year in office, but lost his re-election bid.

"Ronald Reagan dropped under the 50 percent mark in the fall of his first year and stayed there for nearly two years, yet went on to a landslide victory when he ran again."

CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.