Academic journal article AEI Paper & Studies

Obama and His Predecessors

Academic journal article AEI Paper & Studies

Obama and His Predecessors

Article excerpt

Only two of seven post-World War II presidents, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, have had a higher approval rating in their second term than in their first term. The second terms for both of these presidents coincided with solid economic growth, and each avoided what has been called the "second-term curse" or declining ratings. The jury remains out, of course, on President Obama's second term, but the drop in his ratings in 2013 in a deeply polarized electorate does not augur well for him.

President Obama's past State of the Union addresses have not given him much of a boost in approval. In this regard, he is like his predecessors, according to Gallup: "[M]ost presidents have shown an average decrease in approval of one or more points between the last poll conducted before the State of the Union and the first one conducted afterward."

                   First-term average   Second-term average
                   approval rating      approval rating

Harry Truman       56%                  36%
Dwight Eisenhower  70                   60
Lyndon Johnson     74                   50
Richard Nixon      56                   34
Ronald Reagan      50                   55
Bill Clinton       50                   61
George W. Bush     62                   37
Barack Obama       49

Note: Table made from bar graph.

Obama's 2013 Approval Ratings from Major Pollsters

               Gallup   Pew   ABC/Post   Fox RV   Quinnipiac RV

January 2013   52%      52%   55%        47%      46%*
December 2013  41       45    43         41       38

Note: The Quinnipiac University and Fox News polls are of registered
voters. … 
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