WASHINGTON, Jan. 13 (Xinhua) -- As U.S. President Barack Obama prepares to leave office after eight years, 47 percent of Americans say he will be remembered as an "outstanding" or "above average" president, while 35 percent rate him as "below average" or "poor," a Gallup Poll released Thursday showed.
The result might reflect the greater political polarization that marked his tenure as president, Gallup said.
Along those lines, 84 percent of Democrats rate Obama as outstanding or above average, while 69 percent of Republicans say he will be remembered as a below average or poor president, according to Gallup.
The current ratings are significantly more positive for him than prior measurements taken late in his first term and early in his second term, and the results are based on a Jan. 4-8 poll, Gallup data showed.
Gallup asked Americans to predict Obama's legacy, along with retrospective evaluations of 11 prior presidents back to Dwight Eisenhower. Obama stands out in the ratings, putting him behind only John F. Kennedy, at 79 percent, followed by Ronald Reagan at 63 percent, and Dwight Eisenhower at 50 percent, according to Gallup.
Americans may be more likely to give Obama a positive or negative evaluation because his work as president remains fresh in their minds.
Taking everything into account, Obama compares favorably with past presidents. His net rating of +12 among U.S. adults -- the percentage who rate him positively minus the percentage who rate him negatively -- is better than most other presidents, except Kennedy, Reagan, Eisenhower and Bill Clinton. It is far better than his predecessor George W. Bush's -19 net rating, Gallup found.
Evaluations of presidents can change many years after they have left office, when the impact of their policies can be assessed through a historical lens. While some presidents are evaluated differently now than when they were preparing to exit the White House, there has been no clear pattern in how presidential ratings change over time, Gallup said.
Although Clinton and Reagan, along with Gerald Ford, have similar ratings now to when they left the White House, all have experienced some changes in the interim, Gallup said.
Most notably, Clinton's ratings today are significantly lower than they were in 2012 and 2013. Clinton's returning to a more active political role, campaigning for his wife Hillary in the 2016 presidential campaign, may have affected the way Americans judge him, Gallup found.
George H.W. Bush was rated more positively when he left office than he is today. The elder Bush's presidency is still rated positively overall, but the percentage of those rating him "outstanding" or "above average" is down nine points since he left office in January 1993. Meanwhile, his "below average" and "poor" ratings are up by a similar amount, Gallup found.