The American Enterprise Institute’s Political Report provides data showing how incumbent presidents (Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama) were faring in the late summer and fall as their reelection campaigns began in earnest. The findings are pretty dismal for America’s 44th president.
Among other things, the proportion of the country that is satisfied with the way things are going in the country is lower for Obama (11 percent) than it was for anyone else, including Carter (19 percent). The numbers were in the 30s for Messrs. Reagan, G.H.W. Bush, and Clinton, while it was in the 40s for George W. Bush.
Consumer confidence is also lower for Obama (55.7) than it was for Carter (63.3).
On whether the country is heading in the right direction, only 20 percent say yes today; 16 percent said yes under Carter (for Reagan the figure was 51 percent and for George W. Bush it was 52 percent).
As for job approval at this stage: Carter was at 33 percent. Obama is at 40 percent. Nixon was at 49 percent. Clinton was at 52 percent. Reagan was at 53 percent. And George W. Bush was at 54 percent.
This data confirms what everyone, including the president, now acknowledge: He’s an underdog in this election. Thirteen months away from election day, Barack Obama is a badly wounded incumbent. And right now there is no reason to believe things will get significantly better for him.