Barack Obama campaigned on the idea that he could be some great uniter after George W. Bush, but he has ended up being just as polarizing, if not even more polarizing, than his predecessor. Every year of Obama’s presidency so far has been in the top ten of the most polarized Presidential job approval ratings on record. From Gallup:

Largest Party Gaps in Presidential Approval Ratings

I don’t blame Obama for this polarization. It is the product of a natural sorting taking place across the country with the parties becoming more ideologically coherent, much like political parties in most other democracies.

I do blame Obama for not realizing these forces are bigger than any one person, even the President. One of Obama’s biggest mistakes was repeatedly thinking he could forge bipartisan consensus. This misguided obsession with achieving bipartisanship was disastrous for his health care law, crippled the stimulus, lead to idiotic austerity, the sequester, and indirectly created rounds of debt ceiling showdowns.

I’ll be curious to see if the 2016 candidates try to run on a uniter message or if their rhetoric acknowledges the current political reality. Regardless who the next President is I bet they will be equally as polarizing as the last two.