It’s a bad sign when Jimmy Carter’s poll numbers actually start to look respectable. From AEI’s public opinion expert Karlyn Browman and researcher Andrew Rugg:
President Obama looks worse than any recent incumbent president when the public assesses the country’s direction, consumer confidence, personal financial appraisals, and job approval at this point in time.
- Obama 11% satisfied with the way things are going; 20% country heading in the right direction
- Bush 43 44% satisfied; 52% right direction
- Clinton 33% satisfied; 21% right direction
- Bush 41 35% satisfied; 24% right direction
- Reagan 35% satisfied; 51% right direction
- Carter 19% satisfied; 16% right direction
- Nixon N/A satisfied; 26% right direction
Amazingly, nearly twice as many Americans were satisfied with the way things were going at this point in the Carter presidency than they currently are under Obama. Consumer confidence was also eight percent higher. And that was after Carter’s malaise speech, after he fired his cabinet, with stagflation and an oil crisis hitting the country.
Obama’s job approval isn’t at the Carter-level yet, but it’s lower than all of his other recent predecessors at this point in their presidencies. In August, I compared Obama’s approval rating to the previous five presidents. Those who won a second term all had approval ratings above 50 percent a year before their reelection. It looks increasingly unlikely Obama will improve his ratings to that point by November, since his numbers have stagnated in the low-40s since the beginning of August.