Capitalist Social Democrat
- Jan 8, 2010
- Reaction score
- Political Leaning
Matt Bai: Wrong on presidential approval - Brendan Nyhan
Obama's approval trajectory (in purple) is tightly clustered with five of the last seven presidents. Only two of those seven -- George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush -- had significantly higher approval ratings at this point, and neither is an especially compelling counter-example: Bush 43's approval ratings were artificially inflated by 9/11, and Bush 41 was not re-elected. It's not clear that there's anything ominous about Obama's standing at this point.
If Bai is instead referring to the fortunes of the president's party in midterm elections under unified government, then there are only three relevant first-term examples in the contemporary era: Carter (1977-1978), Clinton (1993-1994), and Bush 43 (2001-June 2002). Of those, Democrats suffered moderate damage in 1978 with Carter around 50 percent; the Republicans won a landslide victory in 1994 with Clinton in the mid-40s; and Republicans picked up seats in 2002 when Bush's approval ratings were still extremely high.