Not So Popular


Fourth place. Out of nine Presidents. Not earth shattering, second coming of JFK, popularity numbers for Barack Obama after 100 days.




John F. Kennedy 83% 5%
Dwight Eisenhower 73% 10%
Ronald Reagan 68% 21%
Barack Obama 65% 29%
Jimmy Carter 63% 18%
Richard Nixon 62% 15%
George W. Bush 62% 29%
George H.W. Bush 56% 22%
Bill Clinton 55% 29%

The real man from Camelot, JFK, had the highest 100 day approval numbers in modern history – by 18 points!

Anyway, the point is that after 100 days, Obama is not one of the least popular presidents in history (and no, he’s not less popular than George W. Bush). He’s pretty much where you’d expect a president to be at 100 days.

That offers some clarification as to perception versus reality. There is no great love affair going on with our new President – except between Obama and the media.

Next, look at the disapproval numbers. JFK was disliked by virtually no one if we believe Gallup! By comparison, Obama shares a record high negative with Bill Clinton and George W. This is a tough place to start a relationship.

By subtracting the disapproval numbers from the approval numbers, we get a simple, one number quality rating for each President.

  1. JFK  78%
  2. Eisenhower 63%
  3. Nixon 47%
  4. Reagan 47%
  5. Carter 45%
  6. Obama 36%
  7. HW Bush 34%
  8. W Bush 33%
  9. Clinton 26%

This drops Obama into the number 6 position, more than 40% lower in popularity than JFK, but in a substantially lower tier than even the Presidents who get an average rating – Jimmy Carter beats out Obama by just one slot, but with a 9% advantage!

Rasmussen uses a similar technique to create an approval number for the President. The pollster subtracts its ‘strongly disapprove’ number from its ‘strongly approve.’ Right after his inauguration, this gave Obama numbers as high as 30, but at the hundred day mark it hovered at about a +2 level.

NOTE: Gallup didn’t have 100 day numbers for FDR, so he is not included in the chart of approval numbers. Also omitted are those Presidents who took office without having been elected – Truman, LBJ and Ford.

(For the record, a month after his 100th day in office, Truman’s approval rating was 91 percent; at around his 100th day, LBJ sat at around 77 percent; and Gerald Ford, whose initial 70 percent approval rating plummeted after he pardoned Nixon, was at around 48 percent when he reached the synthetic milestone.)


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