Tag Archives: Gerald Ford

Comparing Biden

President Joe Biden / Photo by Gage Skidmore

By Jim Ellis — Thursday, Aug. 3, 2023

President

Polling: Biden at Lowest Job Approval Rating — News reports are quoting the recent CBS News poll from the YouGov international polling firm (July 26-28; 2,181 US adults; online) as giving President Joe Biden his lowest job approval rating to date. The CBS result found a whopping 60 percent saying they disapproved of the president’s performance in office.

Lately, presidential job approval polling is prevalent. Several firms, such as Morning Consult and Rasmussen Reports, track presidential job performance daily. Therefore, we frequently see a rather wide range of Biden performance ratings on a regular basis.

According to the FiveThirtyEight data organization, President Biden’s positive job approval response from July 26 through Aug. 1 ranged from 35 percent (Premise) all the way to 47 percent (Rasmussen Reports). The president’s disapproval score was recorded from a low of 51 percent (Rasmussen) to a high of 60 percent (YouGov for CBS; Premise).

Regardless of how the job approval research data may vary from day to day, it is curious to see just how these numbers compare with the historical presidential research. The Gallup data firm began presidential approval polling and has charted it ever since President Harry Truman began preparing for the 1948 national election.

According to the current Gallup data, last recorded on President Biden’s 918th day in office, 40 percent of the sampling universe graded him with a positive job approval score (Gallup only records the positive approval response on their historical chart).

Reviewing the 14 presidents from Truman through Biden, inclusive, we look at where certain other presidents stood at around this same time in their own administrations. Interestingly, three other presidents were within the same approval rating realm as Biden at this same approximate point in their presidencies. The three are: Donald Trump (42 percent at the 922nd day of his presidency); Barack Obama (42 percent; 929); and Ronald Reagan (44 percent; 923).

As you can see just from this group, presidential approval 18 or so months before the general election is not an absolute predictor as to whether the subject wins or loses the succeeding national election. Just from the above sample of three, we see one who lost (Trump) and two who won (Obama, Reagan). President Reagan, in fact, had the highest growth rate from his standing 923 days into his term to his final vote percentage of all 14 charted presidents (44 percent approval; 58.8 percent vote percentage in the 1984 election; a comparative gain of 14.8 percentage points).

This tells us that presidential job performance between the commensurate benchmark point in time and the election, and running a sound campaign, are far more important factors in determining presidential re-election outcome than job approval at this point in the term.

Interestingly, the three presidents with the highest approval rating at the commensurate benchmark who ran for re-election: George H.W. Bush (72 percent approval; 905th day in office); Dwight Eisenhower (72 percent; 910); and George W. Bush (62 percent approval; 900) were also the three who lost the most percentage points from their approval ratings in comparison to their ending vote percentage.

In fact, as we know, the leader at this commensurate point, George H.W. Bush with a 72 percent positive job approval, would go on to lose re-election with a finishing popular vote percentage 34.5 points lower than his approval score 18 months before the 1992 national vote. Both presidents Eisenhower and George W. Bush followed the same pattern, but not as dramatically. Eisenhower dropped 14.6 percent from his approval rating to final vote percentage, and Bush, 11.3 percent.

Overall, of the 14 presidents with recorded job approval scores throughout their tenure in office, seven won the succeeding election and four lost. Two — presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson — did not seek another term. Obviously, Kennedy had been assassinated, while Johnson declined to run.

Of the seven who won the succeeding election, four had positive job approval ratings approximately 18 months before the vote (Truman, Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, and George W. Bush), while three did not (Reagan, Bill Clinton, and Obama).

From the group of four presidents who lost the succeeding election, two had positive ratings approximately 900 days into their terms (George H.W. Bush and Gerald Ford), and two were in upside-down territory (Jimmy Carter and Trump).

Though President Biden has low approval ratings at this juncture, it is by no means certain that he will fail to win re-election in 2024. History tells us that any result can still happen.

The September Reset

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 6, 2016
— Labor Day is always viewed as the traditional general election initiation benchmark for presidential campaigns, so it is important to see where the candidates stand now that we have reached this point in time.

During the Aug. 24-30 period, five national polling entities surveyed the national electorate. The five: USA Today/Suffolk University, Rasmussen Reports, Fox News, Reuters/Ipsos, and The Economist/YouGov find a margin range of Hillary Clinton topping Donald Trump by seven percentage points (USA/Suffolk: Aug. 24-29, 1,000 US likely voters, 42-35-7-4 percent, including Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Stein) to the Republican going up by a single point (Rasmussen Reports; Aug. 29-30: 1,000 US likely voters, 40-39-7-3 percent).

Together, the five polls produce a net average Clinton edge of 3.0 percentage points with neither candidate exceeding 42 percent support nor dropping below 35 percent.

Turning to a historical comparison, where have other presidential campaigns stood on Sept. 1, and how can previous patterns help us project what may happen in this current election?

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Obama’s Job Approval: A Cause for Concern

Presidential job approval ratings can fluctuate widely based on a rather wide variety of factors. Among these are the status of the economy, whether the U.S. is at peace or war, the presence of real or suspected scandal, etc.

While President Barack Obama’s administration has been free of any significant scandal, the U.S. is currently engaged in somewhere between two and three wars, and is suffering from a painfully slow-growing economy and a 9.2 percent unemployment rate.

While the President’s approval rating has generally fluctuated in a relatively narrow band that has ranged from the mid-50s to the mid-40s for the last two years, the trend in recent weeks has become troubling for Democrats seeking office in 2012.

Yesterday’s daily Gallup presidential approval tracking poll shows Obama’s job approval rating now slipping to 39 percent. The Gallup poll takes a rolling three-day average of opinions expressed by 1,500 adults nationally. The margin of error in the survey is +/- three percent.

While Obama continues to receive broad support from African-Americans, his approval rating among Hispanics and whites has lingered at record lows in the past two weeks. Gallup noted that Obama’s approval rating among postgraduates and high-income Americans has seen a particularly steep decline since the late May-early June time period, which was the last time his average weekly job approval rating registered at least 50 percent.

At this stage of his presidency, Obama’s standing with Americans doesn’t compare very favorably with other post-WW II presidents. At the 940 days in office mark (Aug 20), here is how Obama compares to the other Presidents, since Harry S. Truman when polling of this type began:

  • Obama                  40%    Standing for re-election in 2012
  • Truman                54%    Re-elected in 1948
  • Eisenhower        71%    Re-elected in 1956
  • Kennedy              62%    Assassinated in 1963
  • Johnson              48%    Did not seek re-election in 1968
  • Nixon                   49%    Re-elected in 1972
  • Ford                      53%    Defeated for election 1976 (polled at 857 days in office)
  • Carter                   32%    Defeated for re-election in 1980
  • Reagan                 43%    Re-elected in 1984
  • Bush, G.H.W.    59%    Defeated for re-election in 1992
  • Clinton                 46%    Re-elected in 1996
  • Bush, G.W.         59%    Re-elected in 2004

Only Jimmy Carter fared worse than President Obama at this point in the term. The average for the 12 presidents after 940 days in office (857 for Ford) is 47.8%. Thus, Obama is almost eight percentage points below average at this point in time.

The low approval numbers do not mean that the President is doomed to lose his re-election campaign. History shows us that Presidents Nixon, Reagan, and Clinton were all below 50% approval but went on to win impressive re-election victories. In fact, historic landslides were even recorded for Nixon and Reagan. Conversely, two Presidents with some of the highest approval ratings, George H.W. and George W. Bush, both registering a strong 59% positive ranking at this commensurate time during their terms in office, did not fare as well in their re-election campaigns. As we know, George H.W. Bush was defeated for a second term, and his son won a close battle against a below average Democratic candidate.

While President Obama can certainly rebound and win a second term in office at the end of next year, the low approval ratings must be a cause for concern in his campaign camp. Watch for the President to make significant moves to improve his standing in the coming weeks.
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Ron Paul Won’t Seek Re-election

Presidential candidate Ron Paul (R-TX-14) announced yesterday that he will not seek re-election to the House in 2012 regardless of how his long-shot presidential campaign turns out. Mr. Paul was originally elected to the House of Representatives in April 1976, winning a special election from his southeastern Texas suburban/rural combination seat. He then went on to lose the regular election later that year to Democrat Bob Gammage, as Democratic presidential nominee Jimmy Carter carried Texas against President Gerald Ford. Two years later, Mr. Paul defeated Rep. Gammage and held onto the seat until 1984, when he vacated it to run unsuccessfully for the Senate. He returned to the House in 1996 from the Victoria-anchored seat, just southwest of his previous district. He defeated Democrat-turned-Republican Rep. Greg Laughlin in the latter’s first primary election as a member of the GOP. Mr. Paul has held the seat ever since.

The new redistricting plan took large portions of Rep. Paul’s current 14th district and moved it to the new 27th CD, thus giving freshman Rep. Blake Farenthold (R) more Republican territory. This takes the new 14th closer to Houston and changes the rural complexion of the seat, making it more suburban and Democratic, though it still should elect a Republican in virtually every election. With the Victoria portion of the seat now removed, the new 14th encompasses part of Paul’s home county of Brazoria, then moves further northward to gain parts of Galveston and Jefferson Counties (Beaumont), a region that has never been particularly kind to Republicans. In an open seat situation, Democrats chances of winning improve.

Since Mr. Paul is announcing his plans long before the December filing deadline, Republicans will have every opportunity to find a candidate that has appeal across the political spectrum. The new 14th district, even as a 2012 open seat, is still decidedly Republican, though competitive, but the eventual GOP nominee will get a bump in a region where President Obama is not likely to perform well.
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Obama’s Approval Ratings Give No Clue to Re-Election

The Gallup Organization released its presidential job approval ratings for late January, and then compared Barack Obama’s current scores to previous presidents at a commensurate time during their respective tenures in office. Eight former presidents were included on the comparison list, all of Mr. Obama’s modern-day predecessors with the exceptions of Presidents Lyndon Johnson and Gerald Ford. Neither of these men were elected to their first, or only (in the case of Ford), presidential term, hence they were purposely omitted. Vice Pres. Johnson assumed office after John F. Kennedy’s assassination and Vice Pres. Ford succeeded Richard Nixon upon his resignation.

Testing the elected presidents’ job approval ratings in January of their third year reveals no re-election prediction pattern. The chief executive with the best job approval score, George H. W. Bush at 75% in 1991, ironically went on to lose re-election less than two years later. The one with the lowest rating, Ronald Reagan at 36% in the beginning of 1983, would later win a 49-state landslide victory and enjoy historical ratings equal to the best American presidents. Kennedy, though his tragic murder prevented him from seeking re-election, was second highest at 74%. Dwight Eisenhower, who did win a comfortable re-election in 1956, posted a 70% positive score in the first month of 1955.

Since the 2010 election, President Obama’s approval ratings have increased slightly. According to the January Gallup data, he now stands at 49% job approval, with 42% disapproving. These numbers rank him sixth of the nine president’s tested. He is in the same category as Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, who both registered 47% in early 1995 and 1979, respectively. Clinton, of course, went on to win re-election, though without the benefit of gaining majority voter support, and Carter went down to one of the biggest landslide defeats in history.

The remaining two presidents on the list, George W. Bush, at 60% positive in January of 2003, and Richard Nixon, who posted 56% in early 1971, both were re-elected to a second term. Bush won a close re-election and served the entire term. Nixon won a landslide victory, but was forced to resign from office in disgrace in 1974.

Thus, the historical job approval ratings give us little in the way of predicting how Mr. Obama will fare in the 2012 presidential election. From a partisan standpoint, the president’s approval ratings among Democrats have been consistent throughout his tenure. Currently standing at 84%, he began with an 88% mark in February 2009 among voters within his own party. Republicans, not surprisingly, always scored him low, but he has now dropped into the teens among this subset of the electorate. He began with 41% approval ratings among GOP voters, but currently scores only 14% positive. Perhaps most troubling for the president is his standing among Independents. Here, he is substantially weaker after serving two full years than when he first began. Within this group, Mr. Obama initially registered 62% favorable. Today, his score tumbles to 49%. It is within this latter subset that the President’s support will have to substantially grow if he is to win a strong re-election victory 21 months from now.

All of the current Gallup data were accumulated during the January 23-25th period. The sample size contains a rolling average of 1,500 adults.
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