For many months it was said by the president’s political team and his supporters that while his ratings were problematic, they drew comfort from the presidencies of Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, both of whom also faced low ratings in their first terms. In response, many of us patiently pointed out the difference was those low ratings occurred early in the first terms of Reagan and Clinton; that the economy was getting stronger, not weaker, by the summer of their third year; and that the economy (and Obama’s fortunes) were going in exactly the opposite direction from Reagan and Clinton.
Now comes this story in the Washington Post, which reports on a new poll (which Alana wrote about), showing Obama at a record low for his presidency (43 percent of Americans approved of Obama’s job performance in that poll while 53 percent said they disapprove of Obama, with a staggeringly high 77 percent of Americans saying they believe the country is on the wrong track, the highest percents since Obama took office). And according to Jon Cohen and Dan Balz, “By this time in their presidencies, approval ratings for both Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton— who also suffered serious midterm setbacks during their first term — had settled safely above the 50 percent mark. Both then stayed in positive territory throughout their reelection campaigns.”
I met Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton. I worked for Ronald Reagan (but not Bill Clinton). And Barack Obama is no Ronald Reagan or Bill Clinton. He may not even be Jimmy Carter.