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Presidential approval rating comparison

tacomancer

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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.
 

Arch Enemy

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I still don't understand how Bush Jr.'s approval rating grew so much after 9/11. His job is to secure our nation. If I was the keeper of the keys, and dropped a set, then I wouldn't expect my approval rating to be high.
 

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Simple really, it wasn't an approval waiting it was an outlet for the immediete nationalistic feeling that embraced a gigantic majority of the country in the wake of 9/11. I honestly think if it was George Bush, Jimmy Carter, or Clark from down the street was President it wouldn't have made much difference at that point. The nation had just received one of its most traumatic moments ever with live TV streaming it to millions of people who've never seen anything quite so graphic in real life before. To voice support for the President was an outlet in a way that one could voice support for the country at that moment. It was purely an illogical emotional response for a vast majority of people...

...which is even more evident in the steady decline. The decline wasn't about Iraq, it was happening before that. It wasn't about how he was handling the War on Terror, his views on that were pretty clear from the get go. It was simply the notion that the farther from the incident we got the more rational thinking and other irrational emotions began to return to peoples mind and slowly but surely a return to normalcy was being reached as evident by the continued downward slope from that point.

The Presidents approval wasn't the only instance where we could see this. You can look at other things, such as market forces, where the farther we moved from the incident the more people moved from emotional reactoins to it to more normalcy. I would stake every dollar I own for example that sales of American Flags sky rocketed in the time shortly after 9/11 and have steadily decreased back to relatively normal levels since then. You had people rushing out buying carts full of duct tape to have for their windows in case of an attack in portions of the country. You can look at some of the legislation that was passed such as the Patriot Act whose votes for would not have likely been lower if it had been done 2 weeks later and likely less and less every 2 weeks beyond that.

It was an anomoly really, one that hit the nation in all sorts of ways.
 
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