That's gotta hurt!

Since August 9, Barack Obama has had lower job approval ratings than George W. Bush had on the same days in August 2001.  So far, that is–but the trend lines have been pretty clear over the past few weeks.  It also looks like since early July, Obama’s job disapproval ratings have been higher than Bush’s comparable numbers from the same days in the summer of 2001.

Go see the chart–it’s interesting, because my memory of August 2001 was that Bush’s approval ratings were tanking too, and that the common wisdom was that his famous speech cancelling federal money for most stem cell research failed to stanch his fall.  Interestingly, that speech was on August 9, and it appears to have coincided with a modest bump in Bush’s approval ratings that began in early August.  The lowest approval rating in his first seven months Bush ever got was 51%, in early July of 2001.

And now back to our regularly scheduled blog post for today, “Historiann’s After School Special:  Young Goodman Wood.”

0 thoughts on “That's gotta hurt!

  1. There’s one significant difference: people disapproved of Bush because he was not doing anything; they disapprove of Obama because he’s doing things they don’t like, to wit, attempting to render the United States a kinder, gentler nation.


  2. Ohhh–I remember being distinctly displeased with the things that Bush was doing back in the spring and summer of 2001–to wit, his regressive and obnoxious “tax cut.” I remember tearing my hair out in disbelief that a guy who lost the popular vote was nevertheless so successful at bending congress to his will.

    Bush was highly effective in moving his agenda without a mandate through a congress in which Republicans had only a razor-thin majority (or not, in the Senate after Jim Jeffords flipped). Obama, in spite of the tidal wave of goodwill of which he was the beneficiary last winter and in spite of a larger Dem majority in the House and a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate has been strikingly ineffective in moving his agenda. So, I would argue that being seen as effective and successful helps, in some ways no matter what a president has done exactly.


  3. Ah, I remember the Jeffords flip! Hope rose in my breast: no Republican majority! Gridlock in Congress! Joy! Joy in Mudville! Good times. Good times.

    Oh, and, hey! Ask the guys in Bagram if Obama is trying to make the U.S. a “kinder, gentler” nation. Only if following Bush politics on “no habeas for you!” down to the very letter is kinder and gentler. Just for one example.

    But I will admit, Obama has been quite kind and gentle to Wall Street! 7 trillion, baby, and not an iota of oversight.


  4. Yeah–call that “bending the curve” of deflation!

    He also had a rough August and early September last year, as his partisans like to remind us. However, the stakes are totally different: last year it was about one man’s political fortunes. This year there are a whole lot more people’s lives on the line. There are people who are running out of time because their insurance companies are trying to run out the clock on their lives. There are more U.S. deaths in Afghanistan this year so far than in any other year of the war, and more soldiers over there, too.

    A lot of people are counting on him–but I don’t see that he recognizes this.


  5. they disapprove of Obama because he’s doing things they don’t like, to wit, attempting to render the United States a kinder, gentler nation.

    My understanding is that, to the contrary, there is growing disapproval of Obama mostly among Democrats, because he is doing a great job of pissing off the progressive base.


  6. CPP–I think his high disapproval ratings this summer belie that a bit. That is, there is a dedicated and angry 35% of the U.S. that will never support him, no matter what, and they’ve always been there and they always will be there. Where he’s vulnerable now though is that his base is pulling away–people like me, and it sounds like people like you and Emma, too, as you suggest. He doesn’t have a base with the same intensity as his opposition any more, and that could really kill the Dems in the midterms next year.

    This new poll (scroll down for the age breakdown) shows that the people who still support him disproportionately are very young (although their support for him is dropping too), but they don’t always vote, and the people who are lining up against him are the oldsters, many of whom are falling for the right-wing fear and smear campaigns again–but they vote regularly.


  7. Looking at that new poll again I see something interesting: Obama has held pretty steady in my age group (30-49). Does that mean we’re smarter than everyone else, or that we’re just busier and don’t have as much time to watch cable TV and worry? He’s held pretty steady with the next age group up, 50-64, although he’s suffered a bit of a drop this summer with them.


  8. Who cares about approval ratings — didn’t affect Bush much before or after 9/11. Despite high approval ratings after the Afghanistan bombing, he still tanked and did a lousy job.

    I haven’t checked, but I assume Obama’s approval ratings are high among Latinos — or at least Puerto Ricans. Remember, the people Hillary was dancing with?

    SONIA IS A SUPREME. And sorry, but I do think a wise Latina can make better decisions than a white guy, especially a white guy like Alito.


  9. Possible that newly elected presidents are always going to slip in approval when they go from promising (campaigning) to governance (delays, compromises, tradeoffs, etc.)? That might explain Bush’s, Obama’s and Clinton’s falls from grace early in their presidencies. Just a theory but I don’t think it’s unreasonable.


  10. I think approval falloffs are inevitable, although Obama’s decline has been precipitous given the high rankings he started with. (Give the crap economy, 2 wars, and other loads of trouble he inherited, though, and it was bound to happen sooner rather than later in his case. He can only move so far so fast, although I think people on the left like me are right to be suspicious of how quickly he moved to bail out Wall Street compared to bailing out the rest of the American people with some kind of meaningful health care reform.) The loss of his high approval ratings is an index of opportunity squandered. In February, he could have used that popularity to whip his caucus. Now in August and September, it’s just as likely that many Dems might find it politically useful to distance themselves from Obama and his plans.

    His strategy on health care was all wrong. People like me who were his supporters are demoralized and disappointed now, and people who never liked him in the first place have seized the political high ground with a campaign of lies. Bob Somerby at has been on this recently–asking why Dems keep thinking that being right on policy is right on the politics too, and why they persist in playing it this way when they get their a$$es handed to them every time for 40+ years.


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