Pew Research just released an interesting study of Presidential approval trends going back to Richard Nixon’s first term.
In it, they examined job ratings for Presidents early in their term, and looked at the gap between Republicans and Democrats on approval. For example, Obama has 59% approval overall, with 88% from Democrats and 27% from Republicans. That 61 point gap is the widest of any of the most recent seven Presidents to date.
The smallest gap early in his Presidency? Jimmy Carter – he had 56% from GOPers and 81% among Dems for a 25 point gap. The second smallest? Richard Nixon, who had 84% from GOPers and 55% from Dems – a 29 point gap.
It’s interesting to track the gap (see Pew chart) over time. For Nixon and Carter, the partisan polarization was below 30 points. For Reagan, Bush 41, and Clington, the partisan gap ranged from 38 to 46 points. For Bush 43, the gap was 51 points, while its now the aforementioned 61 point gap for Obama.
Also noteworthy is that Obama has the highest approval rating among his own partisans of any President – 88% of Dems approve. Right behind him was Bush 43 (87% of GOPers) and Reagan (87% of GOPers).
Here’s what we can say about President Obama’s approval ratings:
- Despite the fawning press, he’s no better off than most recent Presidents at roughly the same point in time.
Obama’s amazing strength with his ownDems base is going to mean that his approval rating will stay relatively solid for a long time.
The President’s solid approval ratings look better in the context of coming off Bush 43’s record 44 months straight of sub-50% approval ratings.
Of course, this is all relatively unimportant. Jimmy Carter’s overall 72% approval rating in late March of 1977 did little to help him or his party in 1978 and 1980, while the President with the lowest rating early in his term (Bill Clinton’s 49%) had no problems winning re-election. Current standing is not a predictor of future outcomes.