Political Animal


September 13, 2012 5:17 PM Carter vs. Obama Approval Numbers

By Ed Kilgore

Since it’s clear from the Romney campaign’s polling memo earlier this week that Republicans are going to hang onto the 1980 analogies like rosary beads right up to Election Day, the rest of us will just have to keep blowing it up, if only for fun. TNR’s Nate Cohn did a pass yesterday afternoon at the fiction that Reagan was in the same position as Romney at an equivalent time in the 1980 cycle. So I thought I’d mention something about Obama’s comparative status that seems to have largely escaped notice.

Right now the incumbent’s job approval rating is hovering around 50% (49% in Gallup’s daily tracking poll right now). That’s not great, but it’s close to George W. Bush’s 52% in 2004. At this point in 1980, Jimmy Carter’s job approval rating was 37%, and had been below 40% for four months (it would eventually drop to 31% by just after Election Day).

There’s really just no comparison.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • Ilir Deebran on September 13, 2012 5:20 PM:

    Economists don't know how to measure the true rate of economic growth, because they can't model the consumer's perspective on technological advancement. Alex Gheg has released a new framework that can solve this problem. The hidden thoughts and feelings of people can be indirectly measured using the very accurate internal body clock, that we all have. Pleasure contracts time in the human mind, and we can see how this changes our daily circadian rhythms. See some facts and be amazed. Quantity, quality, variety and convenience in one equation. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6tFLGpcOpE

  • Lifelong Dem on September 13, 2012 5:32 PM:

    Plus, Jimmy Carter taught Bible study classes in the White House while we all know Barack Hussein Obama uses a Mulsim prayer rug when he kneels toward Mecca.

  • lmhk on September 13, 2012 5:38 PM:

    Plus, Mitt is not Reagan

  • T2 on September 13, 2012 5:47 PM:

    good god....Bush was at 52 after ignoring the 9/11 warning and sending us into a war based on clear lies......in retrospect- amazing.

  • Where are Mitt's tax returns? on September 13, 2012 5:52 PM:

    From here on in we need to control the narrative.

    Shout from the mountain tops that Myth Romney and Lyin' Ryan will end Medicare/Medicaid as we know it, and will privatize Social Security.
    That they remain secretive about their plans and tax policy intentions.
    That they are two self-serving tea party renigades getting rich on the government dole while distorting the truth on all issues.


    Where are the tax returns?

    "The Bain documents posted... show that Bain Capital will go to great lengths to help its partners and its investors avoid tax," said Rebecca Wilkins, senior counsel at Citizens for Tax Justice. "Beyond simply putting their funds offshore, the Bain private equity funds are using aggressive tax-planning techniques such as blocker corporations, equity swaps, alternative investment vehicles, and management fee conversions."

    A person who isn't willing to provide revenue to our country does not deserve the presidency.

  • c u n d gulag on September 13, 2012 5:58 PM:

    1. Obama ain't no Carter - not that there's anything all that bad about Carter, except he had to try to fix the economy after the Vietnam War, 8 years of Nixon/Ford, and deal with the ramifications of over 30 years of stupid CIA intervention in the Middle East..

    2. And Mitt sure as Hell ain't no Reagan - not even on blotter acid, Jamaicain ganja, a bottle of tequila, and Rush's Oxy stash.

    Mitt makes McCain look smart and reflective, Dole look charming and personable, and Bush look nuanced on foreign affairs

    Unless something tragically bad happens, I think President Obama gets reelected in a relative walk-away.

  • Smellin' a rat? on September 13, 2012 7:00 PM:

    Something is up with Mitt Ro-money, the gang that supports him with huge donations, and some kind of crud going on politically.

    The only connection to the Jimmy Carter years is this memory that some of us have retained and are now wary of Romney/Rove:

    Former National Security Council member Gary Sick discussed his recent book October Surprise: America's Hostages in Iran and the Election of Ronald Reagan. In his book, Mr. Sick explored the theory that the 1980 Reagan/Bush campaign negotiated with the Iranian government to delay the release of 52 American hostages until after Reagan's 1981 inauguration. He also examined the implications of such an agreement, and its possible effect on the 1992 presidential election."

  • idlemind on September 13, 2012 8:29 PM:

    T2: in 2004 there were still a lot of folks hanging on the possibility of "winning" the Iraq war (whatever that would mean). It wasn't until nearly 2006 that the public turned against the war decisively.

  • Lemmy on September 13, 2012 8:42 PM:

    Just because there's no comparison won't deter the GOP, which has been spinning around in its own fact-free FAUX News-generated alternative universe since 2008, from insisting there is. But when you're saddled with a candidate as irrefutably awful as Romney, you grab at whatever straws you can.

  • T-Rex on September 13, 2012 9:37 PM:

    Romney reminds me much more of George H.W. Bush in 1992 than Carter in 1980. Okay, Bush I was the incumbent, rather than the challenger, BUT:
    a) Member of the party clearly responsible for the economic slump? Check.
    b) Always whining about how the other party "apologizes for America and falsely accuses the other side of saying that American marines "died in shame?" Check.
    c) Total absence of core convictions other than a sense that he's entitled to the Presidency? Check.
    d) Convention in which every nasty hatemonger crawled out from under a rock to make a vile impression on American voters? Check, check, check, check.