Monkeyfister, in comments at Eschaton, pointed me to these poll comparisons at Editor and Publisher:
NEW YORK It’s not uncommon to hear or read pundits referring to President George W. Bush as a “popular” leader or even a “very popular” one. Even some of his critics in the press refer to him this way. Perhaps they need to check the latest polls.
President Bush’s approval rating has plunged to the lowest level of any president since World War II at this point in his second term, the Gallup Organization reported today.</p.
All other presidents who served a second term had approval ratings well above 50% in the March following their election, Gallup reported
Presidents Truman and Johnson had finished out the terms of their predecessors, and then won election on their own for a second term.
Bush’s current rating is 45%. The next lowest was Reagan with 56% in March 1985.
More bad signs for the president: Gallup’s survey now finds only 38% expressing satisfaction with the “state of the country” while 59% are “dissatisfied.” One in three Americans feel the economy is excellent or good, while the rest find it “only fair” or poor.
Gallup noted that more challenges lie ahead for Bush, including public doubts about his Social Security plan and Iraq policies.
Here are the approval ratings for presidents as recorded by Gallup (all for March):
Truman, 1949: 57%.
Eisenhower, 1957: 65%.
Johnson, 1965: 69%.
Nixon, 1973: 57%.
Reagan, 1985: 56%.
Clinton, 1997: 59%
Bush, 2005: 45%
It’s obvious that but for 9/11, Bush’s rating would never have climbed much above 50%, because he was slipping before the attacks. Now he’s back down around where he was after completely bungling several major situations that arose early in his first term – the spy plane that went down in China, for example.
So naturally, one wonders with some fear and trembling just what might happen next. Another attack? Another invasion? Or just a slow slide downward until this 2d term is over? Somehow, I doubt that last scenario, simply because too much is riding on this administration’s success and failure for the rest of the Republicans in office. But that puts the Republicans in an interesting quandary – because the risk that anything like another attack or invasion will backfire on the party is really high. People don’t seem to be in much mood for anymore uber-patriotic crap from the Republicans, and fear only goes so far. People get tired after awhile, and I think that given the chaos in domestic issues that the Republicans have fomented, it is working against them now.
It’s almost impossible to know what will happen, but these numbers aren’t a surprise. In just a few short months, Bush seems to have finally reached the extent of most Americans’ patience with extremism. At least, that’s how I see it.