Presidential Race Maps Writing on the Wall

Obama, Bush Numbers Are Similar

Posted Aug 12, 2014 at 8:32 AM by Maurice Berger

Stu Rothenberg observes that President Obama's latest approval rating (according to a poll by the WSJ/NBC News poll)--now at 40%, with 54% disapproving--resembles that of the previous president at this point in his term: "Since Bush's late July 2006 job ratings stood at 39% approve/56% disapprove, the new Obama numbers bear an even more uncomfortably close resemblance to Bush's."

Bill Clinton At Your Barbeque?

Posted Jul 10, 2014 at 8:20 PM by Maurice Berger

The Wall Street Journal reports that "if you were having a barbecue for Independence Day, which recent president would you want to help you out on the grill? Bill Clinton was the most popular choice in a Harris poll released Tuesday. According to the Harris poll, 28% of all adults would want Bill Clinton at the helm for a barbecue, and 22% said they'd prefer Ronald Reagan. Democrats are more likely to prefer Clinton (43%) and Republicans prefer Reagan (45%)."

Most Blame Bush For Iraq Quagmire

Posted Jul 08, 2014 at 9:16 AM by Maurice Berger

A new poll by Quinnipiac reports that 58% of Americans believe President Obama's decision to withdraw troops from Iraq in 2011 was the right thing to do. However, 61% maintained that former President's George W. Bush's decision to invade in 2003 was the wrong thing to do and 51% of voters blame Bush for the current problems in Iraq.

Gallup: Approval Ratings of Ex-Presidents Improve With Time

Posted May 30, 2013 at 8:44 AM by Maurice Berger

In a fascinating analysis, Gallup accesses movement in approval ratings for presidents as the memory of their time in office recedes: "[Our] review of presidential job approval ratings finds that presidents' retrospective approval ratings are almost always more positive than their job approval ratings while in office. In particular, Americans rate John F. Kennedy, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and Ronald Reagan much more positively in retrospect than they did while the men were president." Here is Gallup's chart: 

Presidential Job Approval Ratings While in Office vs. Retrospective Job Approval Ratings

Majority Of Americans See Iraq War As Mistake

Posted Mar 21, 2013 at 7:50 AM by Maurice Berger

A new survey by Gallup reports that a majority of Americans--53%--believe the United States "made a mistake sending troops to fight in Iraq" while 42% say it was not a mistake.

Obama Approval Similar to George W. Bush At This Point In Term

Posted Jan 23, 2013 at 8:58 AM by Maurice Berger

In its analysis of its recent approval polling for the president, the New York Times/CBS News observes that the President's "job approval rating is similar to that of George W. Bush at the start of his second term, but much lower than the ratings of the previous two presidents who served eight years. (President Bill Clinton's approval rate was 60 percent in January 1997 and Ronald Reagan's was 62 percent in January 1985.) More than 8 in 10 Democrats approve of his job performance, 8 in 10 Republicans disapprove and independents are evenly divided."

Gallup: Most Admired Men and Women of 2011

Posted Dec 29, 2011 at 2:06 AM by Maurice Berger

A new survey by Gallup, reports that "Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama continue to be named by Americans as the Most Admired Woman and Most Admired Man living today in any part of the world. Clinton has been the Most Admired Woman each of the last 10 years, and Obama has been the Most Admired Man four years in a row. Oprah Winfrey, Michelle Obama, Sarah Palin, and Condoleezza Rice round out the top five Most Admired women, while the top five Most Admired men also include George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Billy Graham, and Warren Buffett." Here is Gallup's chart: 

Most Admired Woman, 2011

Most Admired Man, 2011

For First Time, Majority Blame Obama For Bad Economy

Posted Oct 24, 2011 at 10:54 PM by Maurice Berger

A poll USA Today/Gallup indicates that a majority of Americans--for the first time--blame President Obama for the nation's economic problems. 53% believe that Obama deserves "a great deal" or a "moderate amount" of the blame for the economic problems that the country currently faces. Nevertheless, an even larger number -- 69% -- believe that former President George Bush deserves a "great deal" or a "moderate amount" of blame for the economy.

Consumer Confidence Index: Electoral Doom For The President?

Posted Oct 17, 2011 at 1:28 AM by Maurice Berger

In yet another indicator of an icreasingly difficult reelection race for the president in 2012, Mark McKinnon observes that "the average consumer confidence index when a president running for reelection wins is 95. When they lose, it's 76. Today the number is 55." Still, the present-day economic situation is highly unusual in that most Americans continue to blame the bad economy on forces outside of Obama's control.

A just released survey by CBS News poll reports that 69% of Americans believe President Obama has not made real progress in fixing the economy; 25% say he has made real progress. Yet, on the question of who to blame for the shaky economy, most--22%--cited the Bush administration, followed by Wall Street at 16%, Congress at 15% and then the Obama administration at 12%. One in 10 said "all of the above. Will this perception help President Obama in his quest for reelection. PollTrack thinks it's too early to tell. 

Gallup: Obama Has Sub-Majority Support in 10th Quater

Posted Jul 28, 2011 at 1:02 AM by Maurice Berger

According to an analysis by Gallup, "President Barack Obama earned a 46.8% average approval rating in his 10th quarter in office ending July 19, essentially unchanged from the 9th quarter and still above his record-low 7th quarter. The president's latest quarterly average is based on Gallup Daily tracking from April 20 through July 19. Across that time, his three-day rolling average approval ratings have been as high as 53% and as low as 42%."

" . . . Obama is in the company of several former elected presidents who averaged sub-50% approval during their 10th quarters in office. This includes three former presidents who won re-election -- Bill Clinton, Richard Nixon, and Ronald Reagan -- and one, Jimmy Carter, who lost. On the other hand, of the three presidents with exceptionally high average approvals at this stage, George H.W. Bush was ultimately defeated, while Dwight Eisenhower and George W. Bush prevailed." Here is Gallup's chart:

10th Quarter Gallup Job Approval Averages of Elected Presidents Who Sought Re-Election

Lack of GOP Front-Runner Is Atypical

Posted Mar 08, 2011 at 12:51 AM by Maurice Berger

Gallup reports: "The close contest among Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin, and Mitt Romney in Republicans' preferences for the 2012 presidential nomination is atypical for a party accustomed to having strong early front-runners. In all 10 competitive GOP races since 1952, one candidate started off strongly, and in 8 of them, he prevailed." Here is Gallup's chart:

Gallup Republican Primary Nomination Polls: Competitive Races, 1952-2008

Gallup: Americans Rate Reagan Greatest President

Posted Feb 22, 2011 at 1:07 AM by Maurice Berger

According to a new Gallup survey, "Americans are most likely to say Ronald Reagan was the nation's greatest president -- slightly ahead of Abraham Lincoln and Bill Clinton. Reagan, Lincoln, or John F. Kennedy has been at the top of this "greatest president" list each time this question has been asked in eight surveys over the last 12 years." Here is Gallup's chart:


Election 2012: How Strong A GOP Candidate Is Jeb Bush?

Posted Feb 16, 2011 at 1:38 AM by Maurice Berger

With calls for President George W. Brush's brother Jeb to throw his hat into the ring for the 2012 presidential election cycle, a key question remains: How strong a candidate would he make. A just released Fox News poll reports that President Obama leads Bush 54% to 34% in the poll, poor numbers indded for the former Florida governor.

Americans Reject GOP Tax Plan

Posted Dec 06, 2010 at 2:22 AM by Maurice Berger

A new CBS News poll reports that a majority of Americans--53%--reject the GOP's efforts to extend Bush-era tax cuts to households earning more than $250,000 per year. Just 26% of Americans support extending the cuts for all Americans, even those earning above the $250,000 level.

Majority Of Americans Incorrectly Assign Bank Bailout To President Obama

Posted Jul 21, 2010 at 1:30 AM by Maurice Berger

A new Pew Research poll suggests that the American public remains substantially unaware that the federal government's bank bailout program was actually signed into law by President Bush. 47% incorrectly believe it was enacted during the Obama's administration; just 34% of Americans answered the question correctly. 

Poll: Americans Continue To Blame Former President Bush For Nation's Ills

Posted Jul 20, 2010 at 2:10 AM by Maurice Berger

In what may be a note of good news for Democrats facing anti-incumbent sentiment in this year's election, a Bloomberg National Poll reports that Americans blame former President George W. Bush more than President Obama for the budget deficit, unemployment and illegal immigration. Bush doesn't do much better when the question turns for foreign policy: 60% say Bush is primarily responsible for the current situation in Afghanistan, for example. Only 10% name Obama.

Americans Continue To Blame Bush For The Bad Economy

Posted Jan 12, 2010 at 1:30 AM by Maurice Berger

In a bit of good news for the Obama administration, a new Rasmussen survey, reports that "51% of voters nationwide continue to believe that the economic woes can still be blamed on Administration of George W. Bush . . . [the] survey finds that just 41% hold the opposite view and believe the policies of Barack Obama are to blame."

Economic Crisis: Bush, Not, Obama The Source of the Problem

Posted Jun 04, 2009 at 2:07 AM by Maurice Berger

According to Rasmussen Reports, most Americans blame George W. Bush and not President Obama for the economic crisis gripping the nation: "Obama contends he inherited the nation’s ongoing economic problems and that his actions since taking office are not to blame. 62% of U.S. voters agree with the president that the problems are due to the recession that began under the Bush administration. Just 27% of voters say the problems are being caused more by the policies Obama has put in place since taking office, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. 10% are not sure which president is more to blame . . . 

. . . Not surprisingly, 88% of Democrats say it’s Bush’s fault. However, Republicans are more evenly divided. Thirty-four percent 34% of the GOP faithful say the economic problems can be traced to the Bush Administration, while 51% blame Obama’s policies. Among voters not affiliated with either party, 61% say the Bush recession is to blame versus 28% who say Obama is at fault."

Compared To Other Recent President's Obama Is Doing Well

Posted Jun 01, 2009 at 2:30 AM by Maurice Berger

Gallup publishes this chart, which compares the approval ratings of president's over the past sixty-years in May of their first year in office. As you can see, only three other president's have done better than Obama, though all but two came in over the 60% mark. Kennedy and Eisenhower's approvals were in the stratosphere, at 77% and 74% respectively. Reagan is third at 68%; Obama not far behind at 65%. The numbers for Lyndon Johnson are not reported (perhaps because he was not elected to his first term, having assumed office upon the dead of John Kennedy in November 1963):




Americans Continue To Downgrade Bush And Cheney

Posted Apr 06, 2009 at 1:38 AM by Maurice Berger

Absence does not always make the heart grown fonder, as the saying goes. According to a just released Gallup poll, Americans do not have warm memories of either former President George W. Bush or Vice-Prsodent Dick Cheney: Neither George W. Bush's deliberate silence about the Obama administration nor Dick Cheney's ready criticism of it appear to have altered U.S. public perceptions about either man. The former president and former vice president are each viewed unfavorably by 63% of Americans, very similar to where they stood with the public in their final White House years. The last reading on Bush's favorability that Gallup recorded during his presidency came in a Jan. 9-11, 2009, survey. At that time, 40% of Americans viewed him favorably and 59% unfavorably. However, this represented an unusual spurt in positive feelings toward Bush, possibly due to changes in media coverage of the embattled president as his term ended, or because of Americans' generally buoyant mood leading up to Inauguration Day . . . The 35% of Americans viewing Bush favorably today is close to his all-time low of 32% in April 2008, and matches a favorable rating from August of that year. Bush's ratings have consistently been in negative territory since July 2005, a sharp contrast to his generally positive image throughout his first term."

Majority Of Americans Rate George W. Bush One Of The Worst Presidents

Posted Jan 15, 2009 at 2:07 AM by Maurice Berger

President George W. Bush is leaving office with one of the lowest approval ratings in history. How do Americans see him relative to other chief executives: as one of the worst. According to a new poll, 57% of Americans say Bush is one of the "five worst presidents in U.S. history . . . Just 6% say he was one of the five best, and 34% place him somewhere in between. Republicans aren’t much help to the retiring 62-year-old GOP president. While predictably 81% of Democrats rate Bush as one of the five worst presidents, so do 20% of Republicans. 65% of Republicans put Bush in the somewhere-in-between category, while only 11% say he was one of the five best chief executives."

Obama's America (Part 4): The State Of The Nation--Political Expectations

Posted Jan 08, 2009 at 5:52 PM by Maurice Berger

In what may be a plus (but also potentially a hindrance), Barack Obama begins his presidency with an exceptionally high approval rating--now hovering around 70%. Even more remarkable, according to a recent national poll of adults, 32% of Americans choose Barack Obama as the "man they most admire living anywhere in the world today, putting him in the No. 1 position on Gallup's annual Most Admired Man list." To put Obama's standing in perspective: Obama is the first president-elect since Dwight Eisenhower in 1952 to top the list. And he has done it with a runaway high figure. For comparison, as president-elect in December 2000, George W. Bush was mentioned by just 5% of Americans, ranking him fourth. In December 1992, president-elect Bill Clinton ranked second behind outgoing president George H.W. Bush, with 15%. And in 1988, then president-elect Bush achieved third place, with 9%." Almost as important for the incoming administration:  Hillary Clinton earns the top spot for Most Admired Woman, named by 20%." Clinton's numbers are significant given the highly public and important role she will play in the White House. Obama's numbers suggests that the president-elect is coming into office with a good deal of political capital--an electorate that both admires and respects him. Indeed, a recent CNN/Opinion Research survey reported that 76% of Americans believe Obama is a strong and decisive leader. (By contrast, just 60% of voters felt the same way about George W. Bush when he took office in 2001.) "That's the best number an incoming president has gotten on that dimension since Ronald Reagan took office in 1981," CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said. "The public's rating of his leadership skills is already as high as George W. Bush's was after 9/11 and easily beats the numbers that both Bush and Bill Clinton got at the start of their first terms in office." And what do Americans expect Obama to actually achieve. According to a Washington Post/ABC News survey, it's quite a bit: 70% of Americans expect Obama to improve the U.S. image abroad; 68% expect him to bring about health care reform; 67% say he will implement policies to deal with global warming; 64% believe he will end U.S. involvement in Iraq; and 46% percent believe he will improve the economy." The the issue of the economy is significant in this poll, out because it is the only one of these goals in which a majority (52%) don't believe Obama will succeed. In the end, high hopes sometimes lead to dashed expectations if the public perceives a new president's initiatives as failed, problematic, or counterproductive. PollTrack will closely watch these numbers over the next few months to see if this extraidinary public goodwill continues and flourishes.

Voters Continue To Oppose Auto Bailout

Posted Dec 24, 2008 at 1:43 AM by Maurice Berger

A new national poll reports that nearly half of U.S. voters (49%) "oppose President Bush’s decision to extend $17.4 billion in emergency taxpayer-backed loans to the failing U.S. auto industry, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. 38% are in favor of the president’s decision, which he announced Friday, while 13% are undecided. The day before, Bush acknowledged that he has been forced to turn his back on many of the free-market principles he believes in because of the severity of the country’s economic situation." President-elect Obama also supports the auto bailout.

Will President Bush See His Approval Ratings Rise?

Posted Dec 04, 2008 at 5:22 AM by Maurice Berger

Gallup is out with an interesting analysis of the approval ratings of lame duck presidents, evaluations that usually rise as the leader's terms drwas to an end: "It is common for presidents who are about to leave the White House to receive a bump in their job approval ratings between Election Day and Inauguration Day. Of the eight post-World War II presidents who left office after serving two terms, declining to seek an additional term, or being defeated for re-election, six saw increased job approval ratings in their final two-plus months in office . . . The largest spike occurred for the elder George Bush, of whom only 34% of Americans approved in October 1992, shortly before Bill Clinton defeated him for re-election. Immediately after the election, Bush's approval rating jumped to 43%, and by the time he left office, his rating had increased further to 56% -- a remarkable increase of 22 percentage points . . . Harry S. Truman and Jimmy Carter are the only two post-World War II presidents whose approval ratings did not improve after their successors were selected." Recent public opinion polls indicate that George W. Bush's end-of-term popularity registers a modest rise, on average +4%. 

Why Obama Won: The Failed Republican Brand

Posted Nov 13, 2008 at 12:50 AM by Maurice Berger

One important advantage that Obama held in Election 2008 was the poor standing of the Republican brand. The incumbent president dropped to the lowest approval rating in history during this cycle. Voters routinely blamed the Republicans--and pointed to a perceived sense of incompetence or mismanagement on the part of the party--for the Wall Street Crisis and subsequent economic meltdown. As much as John McCain attempted to distance himself from the George W. Bush and his own party, the devastation of the Republican brand made it very difficult for him to break the wave of advantage that Obama rode for all but three weeks of the cycle. Even so, McCain was able to pull ahead of Obama after the conventions, a sign that the Democrat's victory was not inevitable and that the damaged Republican brand had not entirely hamstrung the Arizona Senator, who positioned himself as a maverick and an independent. Still, the president's low approval had a profound effect on the outcome of the election. MSNBC reports: "With the single exception of Missouri (which barely went for McCain after a delayed call from NBC News), Obama won every state where Bush’s approval rating was below 35% in the exit polls, and he lost every state where Bush’s approval rating was over 35%. The state with the highest Bush rating? Utah, at 47%, which supported McCain by a 29-point margin. The place with the lowest? Washington DC, at 8%, where McCain got just 7% of the vote." It's hard to imagine a more inhospitable political environment for a party in power.

All States Closed but NOT Yet Called: Bush-Red in 2004

Posted Nov 04, 2008 at 11:41 AM by Maurice Berger

Keep in mind: All closed states not yet called were Bush-red states in 2004. Interesting to see what happens when the Kerry-blue states begin reporting at 8:00 PM. Will Obama start blowing these out . . . or will these states come in a bit closer? Stay tuned.

Come From Behind Victories Are Very Rare At This Point In The Campaign

Posted Oct 27, 2008 at 6:26 AM by Maurice Berger

McCain has his work cut out for him if history is any model. According to Gallup, "there have been only 2 instances in the past 14 elections, from 1952 to 2004, when the presidential candidate ahead in Gallup polling a week or so before the election did not win the national popular vote: in 2000 (George W. Bush) and 1980 (Jimmy Carter). And in only one of these, in 1980, did the candidate who was behind (Ronald Reagan) pull ahead in both the popular vote and the Electoral College and thus win the election." Thus, the 1980 election represents the only time in over 50 years that a candidate behind nationally one week before the election went on to win the popular vote and an electoral majority.

McCain's Challenge II

Posted Oct 22, 2008 at 3:46 AM by Maurice Berger

Another big challenge for McCain--one that may be impossible at this point to overcome--is his standing with independent and unaffiliated voters. Last night's NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll had sobering news for the Republican: with 13 days to go, Obama has opened a breathtaking 12% lead among independent voters, 49% to 37%. While it is true that Obama does not break the 50% mark with these voters, and some may still be persuadable, these numbers present an enormous roadblock to McCain, who is facing renewed Democratic enthusiasm and a dramatic jump in new Democratic voters. In effect, in a two-party system that is now closely divided by affiliation, unaffiliated voters are the tie breakers. Why are they moving to Obama? [1] His campaign has been very effective at reaching these voters. Obama's first debate performance will probably be seen as a turning point in the election: cool under fire, eminently knowledgeable and focused, detailed in his response to complex questions and issues, the Democrat went far in allaying the doubts (and prejudices) of non-partisan voters. [2] The fundamentals of the economy are NOT strong. McCain's politically devastating remark, made hours before the full impact of the Wall Street crisis would become known, undermined his credibility on the economy at a time when most voters were losing confidence in the country and its direction. With under 10% of the nation believing the nation is "headed in the right direction," a national record, the electorate (and especially non-partisan voters) want a president who can make things better. [3] The Republican brand is suffering. With President Bush also breaking records with an all time low in public approval of his performance--and the Republicans in general blamed for the economic meltdown--independents may be ready for a change. Until the meltdown, McCain's own reputation as an independent and maverick helped to convince these voters that he, too, was an agent of change from the policies of the current administration. Indeed, until the Wall Street disaster it appeared as if he could actually win, despite the ailing Republican brand. What a difference an economic crisis makes.

George W Bush's Approval Ratings: A Problem for McCain?

Posted Oct 13, 2008 at 4:24 AM by Maurice Berger

An ABC News/Washington Post national survey released today--indicating a +10% lead for Obama--has another piece of bad news for John McCain: 51% of registered voters think McCain as president would lead the nation in the same direction as the profoundly unpopular Bush, as persistent a problem for McCain as experience has been for Obama." Given the president's historically low approval ratings, is the damaged Republican brand too much for McCain to overcome?

Bush Approval At All-Time Low: How Will This Effect Election 2008?

Posted Oct 01, 2008 at 1:17 AM by Maurice Berger

President Bush's approval rating has dropped to an all-time low, according to Gallup: "Before the U.S. House of Representatives voted down a proposed financial rescue plan endorsed by the Bush administration, just 27% of Americans said they approved of the job George W. Bush is doing as president, the lowest of his presidency and already down 4 points since the financial crisis intensified." To what extent, PollTrack wonders, is this decline, coupled with the voters' tendency in recent surveys to blame Republicans in general for the present economic crisis, contributing to McCain's declining polling numbers? Over the next month, will it be possible for McCain to transcend the negative standing of his party? Is his fate inexorably linked to the success or failure--or the public perception thereof--of the bailout package and its economic aftermath? Interestingly, while McCain's numbers have drawn back to pre-convention levels--and Obama's are up accordingly--the Democrat still does not break the 50% mark in most national polls. PollTrack observes that there remains a undertow of resistance to Obama in the electorate at large. This inability to seal the deal with the American voter may be due to a number of factors--including uncertainty about the candidate's experience, his inability to lock up support from working class and so-called Reagan Democrats (thus, McCain's leads in OH, TN, WV, and KY) and die hard Hillary Clinton supporters, overt or unconscious racism, or the perception that the Democrat is somehow "foreign" or "out of touch" with middle American values. Will the nation's economic implosion help Obama to seal the deal or will McCain retake the momentum?