Thursday, July 30, 2009

How to become unpopular: Become President!

Approval minus Disapproval: Blue: Inauguration Red: Six Months in office
Difference in Net Popularity: Inauguration to Six Months in Office

President's Popularity during Entire Term

Data Source: The American Presidency Project

Much ado has been made regarding President Obama’s current decline in the polls. Health care, racial profiling and a host of other issues has resulted in the President’s decline in various opinion polls. Is this a rare occurrence seldom endured by other chiefs of state? Apparently not! The graphs depict the rise or most commonly the waning of a President’s popularity as reality sets in during the first six months in office. It is exceedingly rare that a President’s popularity rises during this period. George W. Bush’s popularity was declining rapidly until September 11th 2001 when the attack on America caused a surge of patriotism resulting in the Bush White House popularity to soar. Gerald Ford's popularity took a nosedive after he assumed office. (his statistics are not included since he was never elected after a campaign.) Even Ronald Reagan's numbers declined as the 1981-1982 recession became reality. George H.W. Bush's popularity actually rose during the first 6 months but this was larger due to the fact that at the time of his inauguration there was a significant undecided aspect to his polling numbers. All Presidents since Truman, except Clinton, were less popular at the end of their term than when they took office.

The platforms that are presented during the election campaign are usually met with enthusiasm—hence the victorious outcome for the President-elect. However, once the legislative process begins debating campaign promises the bi-partisan nature of the legislative process begins to take its toll on the public opinion.

Reminiscent of President Clinton’s first six months, health care has had an adverse effect on the Obama White House. Health Care has proven to be a extraordinary divisive policy that incites emotional debate on all sides and is exaggerated by the obsession the media has with the issue. This is not to say that the media should ignore such a fundamental issue concerning the American people, but partisan hyperbole and political gamesmanship only exasperates the dissension and causes both opponents and proponents to become further polarized—however—it apparently is very effective at selling media advertising.

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