Presidential Race Maps Writing on the Wall

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%)."

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

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:


Americans See U.S. as Exceptional; 37% Doubt Obama Does

Posted Dec 30, 2010 at 1:03 AM by Maurice Berger

Gallup reports that "Americans widely agree that the United States has a unique character because of its history and Constitution that sets it apart from other nations as the greatest in the world. This view, commonly referred to as "U.S. exceptionalism," is shared by at least 73% of Americans in all party groups, including 91% of Republicans. . . . On the whole, Americans, by 58% to 37%, believe Obama thinks the U.S. is exceptional, consistent with what he and his advisers maintain. But Americans are less likely to believe Obama holds this view than they are to think the same about Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush." For more on the survey click here.

Do American Want President Reagan On Their Currency?

Posted Apr 30, 2010 at 12:40 AM by Maurice Berger

Despite his continued popularity with Americans, Ronald Reagan does not warrant depiction on American currency according to a new poll. As congress moves to consider replacing the portrait of President Ulysses S. Grant on the fifty dollar bill with that of former President Reagan, a new Marist Poll reports that an overwhelming 79% of Americans think it's a bad idea; just 12% say it's a good one and 9% are unsure.  

Gallup: Obama At 50% At Start of Second Year

Posted Jan 07, 2010 at 1:46 AM by Maurice Berger

Gallup notes that President Obama begins his second year as president with 50% of Americans approving and 44% disapproving of his overall job performance: "This is well below the 68% approval rating Obama received in his first few days as president, and matches his average for all of December -- which included many days when public support for him fell slightly below that important symbolic threshold. . . . Obama's initial approval rating in his second year as president is among the lowest for elected presidents since Dwight Eisenhower. Only Ronald Reagan -- who, like Obama, took office during challenging economic times -- began his second year in office with a lower approval score (49%). However, Obama's disapproval rating is slightly higher than Reagan's was (44% vs. 40%)." Of course, as PollTrack notes, Reagan went on to become one of the most popular US presidents in the 20th-Century. So at this early stage, it's hard to tell if these numbers are in any way significant.

President Obama 's Approval Rating Drops Below 50%

Posted Nov 23, 2009 at 2:04 AM by Maurice Berger

Presidential approval ratings ebb and flow. At any given point a low--or high--rate of approval may reflect little about a president's overall approval over time. At this point in their tenure both Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton were hovering in the low to mid-40s (both ended their presidencies with relatively high approval numbers). Still, this week's numbers suggest that our current president has moved well past his honeymoon with voters: for the first time, his positive and negative numbers in the PollTrack average are equal. And his positive approval rating has dropped well below 50%. As of Sunday evening, 47.3% of voters approve of the way President Obama is handling his job; 47.3%, disapprove.

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):




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.

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%. 

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.