Forty Years Later: Richard Nixon's Resignation

AEI Paper & Studies, July 2014 | Go to article overview

Forty Years Later: Richard Nixon's Resignation


Forty years ago, on August 8, 1974, Richard Nixon resigned the presidency. At the time, his approval rating was 24 percent. Fifty percent of Republicans approved of the job he was doing, but only 13 percent of Democrats agreed. Although the question has not been asked recently, people still believe his actions were serious enough to warrant his resignation. As the next page shows, initial reactions to President Gerald Ford's pardon of Nixon were negative, but views softened over time.

Q: Do you approve or disapprove of the way Richard Nixon is handling his job as president?

Approve of the job Richard
Nixon is doing as president

National response  24%

Response of
  Republicans      50%
  Democrats        13
  Independents     22

Source: The Gallup Organization, August 1974.

Q: Do you think ...?

President Richard Nixon's actions
regarding Watergate were serious
enough to warrant his resignation

1992   70%
2002   63

Source: The Gallup Organization, June 1992; ABC
News, June 2002.
Note: Table made from bar graph.

Reactions to the Nixon Pardon

In 1974, 26 percent in a September Opinion Research Corporation question supported President Ford's action to pardon Richard Nixon. By 1986, a majority said President Ford did the right thing.

Q: Do you ...?

Approve of President Ford's
  action in pardoning
  Richard Nixon for the
  Watergate-related
  offenses he committed       26%
Disapprove                    59

Source: Opinion Research Corporation, September 1974.

Note: Table made from bar graph.

Q: Now I'm going to read a few statements about some
topics that are in the news these days. Please tell me
whether you agree or disagree with the statement ...?

In the long run, it was
  probably right to pardon
  former President
  Richard Nixon              47%
Disagree                     45

Source: CBS News/New York Times, June 1976.

Note: Table made from bar graph. … 

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