President Obama’s latest increase in his approval rating has put him on at the same level as Bill Clinton and Ronald Ronald Reagan during their first terms.
The right loves to compare President Obama to Jimmy Carter but a comparison of presidential approval ratings using Gallup’s data reveals that Obama has much more in common with Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan than he does with recent one term only presidents.
Obama’s overall first term approval rating average is 49%. Bill Clinton’s first term approval rating average was 49.6%, and Ronald Reagan’s was 50.3%. In contrast, George H.W. Bush’s first term approval rating average was 60.9%, and Jimmy Carter’s was 45.5%.
President Obama’s current Gallup weekly approval rating is 52%. At the same point in their first terms, Bill Clinton’s approval rating was 58%, and Ronald Reagan’s was 54%. At roughly the same date in his presidency, Jimmy Carter’s approval rating was 37%. (After losing the 1980 election to Ronald Reagan, Carter would sink to 31%.) George H.W. Bush’s approval rating was 34% in mid-October 1992.
Even though Republicans will never admit it, Obama’s approval ratings curve has much more in common with Ronald Reagan than it does with Jimmy Carter. What these numbers tell us is that presidents who either inherit recessions or have one occur during their first terms have lower approval ratings during their first years in office. Once the economy starts to recover, the incumbent president’s approval ratings go up.
As the economy has shown real signs of improvement, Obama has seen his approval rating increase by 6 points in less than two months. Mitt Romney is attempting to argue that President Obama is an economic failure despite the fact that economic data, and the president’s approval ratings suggest the opposite.
Both Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan saw their approval ratings take off after they won a second term. While it is impossible to know for sure, the current trajectory of the economy combined with President Obama’s personal popularity suggests Obama is on a similar track if he wins reelection.
The Republican argument that Obama is an unpopular colossal failure simply doesn’t match up with reality. The Obama that Mitt Romney is running against is a failed left wing socialist that voters are rejecting on a daily basis.
The Gallup data illustrates the reality that Obama is much closer to Bill Clinton in terms of being a personally popular centrist Democrat.
Much like Reagan and Clinton, Obama has personal likability and an appeal to the political middle.
Barack Obama looks more like a potential two term success story than a one term failure.
Mr. Easley is the founder/managing editor and Senior White House and Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association