Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Presidential Popularity

Who was more popular, Obama or Reagan?  The conventional wisdom is that Reagan was an extremely popular president, while the drumbeat about Obama seems ominously negative, with numerous reports of his failures and popular disapproval.   (so much for the supposedly liberal media!)   Could Obama's unpopularity be partly a result of perennially dissatisfied liberals, unhappy that the Obama administration has not brought all the troops home, locked all the Wall Street executives in jail, and enacted Medicare for all?  Could it be the result of a concerted effort by the right to attack the administration's every proposal?

Or could it be that the conventional wisdom is actually entirely wrong?  According to Gallup, Obama's approval rating has been holding steady at around 50% since last fall (it reached a low of 46% earlier this month and currently stands at 48%)   Considering all of the negativity in the media, and how much attention is paid to the critics and protesters, and considering that we are still mired in perhaps the worst economy since the Great Depression, an approval rating of close to 50% really doesn't seem all that bad. 

How does that compare to the supposedly immensely popular Ronald Reagan?  It might surprise a lot of people to know that Reagan's average approval rating during his presidency was only 53%, again according to Gallup. Reagan was more popular than his predecessors, Nixon, Ford and Carter, but significantly less popular than his successors George Bush I or Bill Clinton.  During Reagan's second year in office (reminder: we are in Obama's second year in office), Reagan's approval rating averaged 43%.   FORTY-THREE PERCENT!

Why isn't the media talking about how incredibly popular President Barack Obama is?  He is a good five points ahead of the incredibly popular Ronald Reagan.


  1. Because the television media is populated by an incredible band of idiots!

  2. Ah... Obama started out at like 85%, that's why.

  3. It will be interesting to see what Obama's approval rating will be in November if ObamaCare gets muscled through with no voting by Congress.

  4. Obama's approval rating was actually about 70% when he was sworn in. And I agree that it will be interesting to see where it goes from here. But I'm puzzled by the statement that healthcare will be muscled through with no voting. I seem to recall that two different versions of health care reform have already passed both houses of Congress, and the House may be voting on the Senate version this week. Then the Senate will be voting on some changes to their bill that the House is also taking up this week. But whatever happens with health care, it will have to be by majority vote. And there will be at least four votes by Congress.

  5. Joe,
    What I'm hearing on CNN is that House Democrats are planning to “deem” the health care bill into law without calling for a vote.

  6. I'm not an expert on parliamentary procedure, but my understanding is that they will still have a vote, but as part of the vote, they will be "deemed" to have passed the Senate bill without directly voting on the Senate bill itself. I think it will be clear what they will be voting on, however. And even though Michelle Bachman is running around hysterically screaming that the procedure is unconstitutional, apparently the Republicans used it many times when they were in the majority. (That falls under the "when we do it, it's different" rule.)