About those steady approval ratings …
posted at 1:53 pm on May 22, 2013 by Ed Morrissey
I know that the President’s defenders have used recent job-approval polling to show that Americans don’t care about scandals in the administration, but except in the last few weeks of a presidential election, job-approval figures tend to be a lagging indicator. Michael Catalini explains that it takes a couple of months into a serious administration scandal before job-approval or personal-approval numbers will begin to slip:
The break-in at the Watergate occurred in June 1972, five months before Nixon rode to a landslide reelection, but the scandal did not damage his approval ratings until after two aides were convicted of conspiracy in January 1973. Between January and August, his approval rating dropped from 67 percent to 31 percent after the resignation of his top staffers, attorney general and deputy attorney general. Over that time, his approval rating dropped by an average of 3 points a month, according to Gallup. Nixon’s approval rating never recovered, culminating in his resignation on Aug. 9, 1974, when he left office with an approval rating of just 24 percent.
Ronald Reagan’s approval rating dipped from 63 percent in October of 1986 to 47 percent in December 1986, a month after Reagan organized the special commission to investigate whether arms were traded for hostages as part of the Iran-Contra affair. His ratings rebounded slightly as Vice President George H.W. Bush began campaigning for the presidency in the summer of 1988, reaching 53 percent, according to Gallup.
The Drudge Report and Newsweek reported on Bill Clinton’s affair in January 1998. Clinton’s job approval actually jumped to 69 percent in a Jan. 30 Gallup survey, up from 59 percent in a poll from earlier in the month. Clinton’s approval rating never dropped below 60 percent throughout 1998, and jumped 10 points from 63 percent to 73 percent in December, the highest approval of his presidency.
But while Clinton’s job approval remained high throughout 1998, his personal favorability took a dive in the wake of the scandal. Gallup found his favorability dropped by five points in August, after he gave a nationally televised speech admitting he had an inappropriate relationship with Lewinsky. Clinton’s favorability dropped from 60 percent a week before the speech to 55 percent a week after the address. A month later, it had fallen to 51 percent but later rebounded.
Barack Obama faces three major scandals all at once, so perhaps we might expect an amplified impact. Still, I think it will take a while for those to show up consistently in job-approval ratings, assuming any or all of the scandals will maintain their own impact. Don’t be fooled by a lack of immediate movement.
Update: Breitbart’s John Nolte notes that some polls already show some erosion:
But Monday was a lifetime and countless revelations ago, and today,four newer polls all show Obama’s approval rating sinking below 50%.
Fox News has Obama upside down with 45% approving of the president and 51% disapproving. Rasmussen shows a similar trend with 46% – 53%; as does The Economist, 45% – 51%. Gallup sits at 49% – 44%.
Be sure to read it all.