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Presidential Approval Ratings for Different Presidents:
Recent news on President Bush's poll numbers led me to google around to see what kind of approval ratings different Presidents had for the lengths of their Presidencies. I came across a very cool WSJ site from 2006 that features this chart: Presidential approval ratings from 1945 to the present. To focus on the ratings for individual Presidents, just click on the name on the left-hand column. For an updated chart for President Bush, see here.
margate (mail):
Great stuff. One thing seemed readily apparent.

The Democrats in the House and Senate are not pursuing Bush's impeachment because it would distract them from America's work.

No.

Look at Clinton's approval ratings. The more the Republicans attacked him, and the absolutist it became -- concluding with the impeachment exercise -- the higher his approval ratings.

So contrary to inside-the-beltway wisdom from the David Border-types, the Dems are ignoring the impeachment card because it will make Bush more popular.

And if that's not right, impeachment sure as hell can't make him any more unpopular than he and Cheney are doing all by themselves.

Never through a self-immolating politician a bucket of water.
5.7.2007 2:38pm
margate (mail):
Duh!

"Never through throw a self-immolating politician a bucket of water."

Also " . . . more absolutist . . . "
And never post without spellcheck!!!
5.7.2007 2:39pm
AppSocRes (mail):
I notice that Truman's war in Korea was even more unpopular than Bush's in Iraq.
5.7.2007 2:53pm
Commenterlein (mail):
What's scary is that Nixon's approval ratings never went below 20%. Proofs once more that there is absolutely nothing one could do to change the mind of a real wingnut.
5.7.2007 2:53pm
Commenterlein (mail):
... proves once more that I am not clever enough to spell.
5.7.2007 2:59pm
CollegeProf:
I notice that Truman's war in Korea was even more unpopular than Bush's in Iraq.

Yes, although Johnson's war in Vietnam was never as unpopular as Bush's war in Iraq.
5.7.2007 3:03pm
Justin (mail):
"I notice that Truman's war in Korea was even more unpopular than Bush's in Iraq."

I'd also say that the increased polarization of politics had given George Bush a "floor" of about 30% of hardcore support that would not go away regardless of the circumstance. That "floor" seems to be slowly dissolving, in part due to the 2008 elections reopening the "internal" debates amongst Republicans, in my view.

I've only been alive for a portion of the Presidents listed (not Truman or Johnson), but I suspect that the partisanship and polarization here is unique, and that during the Johnson presidency there was a different, and also unique form of polarization. Such suspicion may be elaborated upon by older, perhaps wiser readers.
5.7.2007 3:08pm
Eric Muller (www):
Orin, when you post this sort of thing, you just make the enemy happy. Why do you hate America?
5.7.2007 3:18pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
You could probably put those side-by-side graphs on canvas &get it hung in the Whitney. Particularly if you painted them with various bodily fluids.
5.7.2007 3:26pm
Rich B. (mail) (www):
Am I the only one who thinks the main chart looks like George Washington's signature?
5.7.2007 3:36pm
Syd (mail):
It takes a lot of sustained effort for a President to get his approval rating below 30%. By the way, Newsweek has Bush at 28%.
5.7.2007 4:14pm
dave h:
The first thing I noticed was that most presidents have a pretty marked trend downwards. Clinton is a stark exception, and Reagan and Ford were mostly constant. But it seems we get tired of our presidents rather often.
5.7.2007 4:15pm
Really?:
Looks like this chart can be read two ways:

(1) Clinton was the only president in the last half-century to have a higher approval rating upon completion of his term(s) than when he started, or

(2) At the end of his 8 years, more people approved of him leaving the presidency than approved of his job at the beginning.
5.7.2007 4:47pm
Orielbean (mail):
If I remember, didn't Truman fire MacArthur because he wanted to take the war all the way to China?
5.7.2007 4:47pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
If I remember, didn't Truman fire MacArthur because he wanted to take the war all the way to China?

Basically yes, though the actual occasion for his firing was relatively trivial. Actually, MacArthur should've been fired for letting the Chinese take him by such utter surprise -- the signs were there for anyone not too arrogant to read them -- but his mystique was too great.
5.7.2007 4:55pm
Vinnie (mail):
So, Carter was more popular than Reagen ever was, and bush is less popular than Carter ever was. Thats funny.
5.7.2007 5:02pm
dll111:
I forget where I read it, but some writer was discussing the Bush administration's frequent use of Harry Truman as evidence that a president with low approval ratings at the time can be vindicated by history. The writer thought it sounded similar to many starving artists that take solace in the fact that Van Gogh never really sold a piece while he was alive. Well, they're not all misunderstood, ahead-of-their-time Van Goghs! They're just shitty artists!
5.7.2007 6:02pm
AppSocRes (mail):
Anderson:

It turns out that the British military attache in Washington during the march to the Yalu was a guy named H. A. R. "Kim" Philby. Mr Philby may have had some assistance from people in the Truman administration like Messrs. White and Hiss. But the bottom line is, the Red Chinese had a direct tap into McArthur's militarty strategy and deployments via Kilby and Stalin. McArthur died before Burgess, Philby, aand McLain were unmasked, but he always suspected that his plans were being leaked to the the Red Chinese Army. The Chinese always seemed to know his troop dispositions and movements. It's not terribly surprising that America's greatest general had military difficulties given that the enemy, in this one instance, were probably aware of his battle plans before his corps commanders were.

McArthur's two major previous campaigns: his island hopping strategy in the Pacific and the landing at Inchon were unparalleled military successes, obtained with minimal US and enemy casualties (compare the enormous casualties the Navy/Marines and Japanese sustained in separate Pacific campaigns, e.g. on Tarawa, Iwo Jima, and Saipan). McArthur's parallel columns advance to the Yalu was as brilliant as his previous strategies and can even be compared to Sherman's March through Georgia. It might well have succeeded had not his strategy been undermined by the intelligence coups of one or more KGB agents in Washington.

Truman fired McArthur for political reasons: He was terrified that McArthur would be an opposition candidate for President. It took another good general to put Truman out of office.
5.7.2007 6:50pm
Owen Hutchins (mail):

"I notice that Truman's war in Korea was even more unpopular than Bush's in Iraq."



And we see how well that one turned out.
5.7.2007 7:28pm
Dave N (mail):
Owen Hutchins,

The people in the Republic of Korea probably are fairly happy with the way it ended. Or do you honestly think they would be happier if Dear Leader was in charge there too?
5.7.2007 7:47pm
MartyB:
In the chart, Carter had already bottomed out before the hostage crisis. I'd forgotten that, maybe because the crisis has often been mentioned by the press as the reason for his undoing.
5.7.2007 8:13pm
Vinnie (mail):
No that was OUR undoing.
5.7.2007 8:57pm
Owen Hutchins (mail):
Dave- the people in the north probably would be far better off had the war gone differently. The Glorious Leader is a result of the war, not the cause.
5.7.2007 11:09pm
LM (mail):
The chart for the current President Bush belies the popular talk radio and blog-(non)wisdom that the country is divided into two ideologically entrenched camps, the America haters and the torture lovers (as characterized by their respective opponents). If the President's approval rating has dropped from 90% to 30%, at least 60% of the population must be susceptible to persuasion by something incompatible with these caricatures of rigidly deterministic ideologues.
5.7.2007 11:10pm
Dave N (mail):
Owen Hutchings,

I agree the people in the North would have been much better off had the war gone differently. However, Dear Leader is not a "result" of the war. Rather, his father, Kim Il-Jung, aka "Great Leader," STARTED the war by invading South Korea.

America came to South Korea's defense, but was, along with the South Korean Army, nearly pushed into the sea by the North Koreans. Only the success at Pusan prevented unification of the Korean pennisula on North Korean terms.

The American led counteroffensive pushed the war almost to China--which would have led to reunification on South Korean terms. The Chinese then intervened; the war stalemated; and in the end a ceasefire left the lines very close to where they were at the beginning of the war.

So I must ask the question, had the U.S. not intervened, why wouldn't Dear Leader be in power over the entire Korean Penninsula?
5.8.2007 12:38am
Dave N (mail):
Kim Il-sung, not Kim Il-jung. Other than that, my post stands.
5.8.2007 12:41am
fasdbfh (mail):
I don't remember the priest telling me when I went to Confession when I was a kid, "Well, Lance, it was wrong of you to disobey your mom and talk back to her like that, but since you set the table every night and do your homework and sent your aunt a birthday card, what the heck! You're a good kid. Your sins are forgiven automatically. No need for you to do any penance." 糖尿病 文秘 心脑血管 高血压 高血脂 冠心病 心律失常 心肌病 中风 糖尿病症状 And maybe it's happened a few times and I haven't heard about it but I can't recall a judge ever letting somebody walk on the grounds the crook was a good guy and his friends really like him.
5.8.2007 4:45am
Anderson (mail) (www):
AppSoc, MacArthur had *scads* of intel to the effect that the Chinese were getting ready to roll. He ignored it, supremely confident in his ability to anticipate the workins of the Oriental Mind.

The Philby stuff is not implausible, but speculative.

MacArthur's technical abilities were very great; his strategic sense however was gravely flawed by his pride and egotism. The reconquest of the Philippines, where island after island was invaded rather than isolated, is one example; Korea is another. (Inchon was quite brilliant, but was not far from being a disaster that would've punctured even the MacArthur myth.)

Your slurs on Truman are not unusual, but the bottom line is that MacArthur disobeyed his orders, and Truman had every right to question both his loyalty and his professional judgment. It was past time for Ridgway to take over.
5.8.2007 10:29am
Barry (mail):
LM (mail):
T"he chart for the current President Bush belies the popular talk radio and blog-(non)wisdom that the country is divided into two ideologically entrenched camps, the America haters and the torture lovers (as characterized by their respective opponents). If the President's approval rating has dropped from 90% to 30%, at least 60% of the population must be susceptible to persuasion by something incompatible with these caricatures of rigidly deterministic ideologues."

Please remember that it's taken five and a half years of screwing up for Bush to get where he is today. Workin' hard, so to speak. He was clearly using 9/11 for domestic political gain, corruptly, and was clearly neglectful of national security.
5.8.2007 11:02am