Saturday, November 21, 2009

Presidents, Polls, Popularity and Graphs

Here is a link to a really neat inter-active graph that let's you compare approval ratings for various presidents since the 1940s:

Presidential approval tracker
The Gallup organization first started asking Americans how they approved of the job the president was doing in the 1940s. See how each president since then has fared in the approval poll, look at some news events that influenced public opinion and compare how approval ratings evolved for each president. [...]

Be sure and read the article just below the graph, too:

Polls can affect president's hold on party
By Susan Page, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON — A president's standing after his first six months in office doesn't forecast whether he'll have a successful four-year term, but it does signal how much political juice he'll have for his second six months in office.

That's the lesson of history.

Barack Obama, who completed six months in office Monday, has a 55% approval rating in the USA TODAY/Gallup Poll, putting him 10th among the dozen presidents who have served since World War II at this point in their tenures.

That's not as bad for Obama as it may sound: The six-month mark hasn't proved to be a particularly good indicator of how a president ultimately will fare.

Two-thirds of Americans approved of the jobs Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush were doing at six months, but both would lose their bids for re-election.

And though the younger Bush and Bill Clinton had significantly lower ratings at 180 days — Clinton had sunk to 41% approval — both won second terms. [...]

I'm sure it is too early to say what the polls portend for Obama. So far his graph compares well with Ronald Reagan's and Jimmy Carters. But if the economy continues to tank and unemployment does not improve, I expect it will go the Carter way, rather than the Reagan one. Time will tell.

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