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President Obama remains stuck with historically low approval ratings, a potentially severe handicap that could hamper his ability to pass his second term agenda.

Despite recent reports ballyhooing a rise in Obama’s approval numbers, which according to Gallup had  edged up to 58 percent in December, Obama is back to a bare majority, with only 52 percent giving him the thumbs up in both Gallup and Pew Center surveys.

The polling shows Obama essentially got no bounce from his Inauguration, with his approval rating having been at about 51 percent before giving a speech widely held to be a partisan recitation of liberal principles.

Fifty two percent is exactly where George W. Bush was at the start of his second term. But unlike Obama, Bush had won the presidency by a sliver and was embroiled in an unpopular war. Bush’s signature second term initiative, Social Security reform, was a dismal failure.

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