Obama may not be as weak as Republicans had hopedgraphics8.nytimes...
Made popular 1024 days ago in Politics
thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com — If Mitt Romney goes on to win the Republican presidential nomination, should he be considered the favorite or an underdog against President Obama?

Historically, the best predictor of a president’s re-election chances has been approval rating. Since World War II, every president with an approval rating at least a few points above 50 percent has won re-election. Every president with a rating clearly below 50 percent has lost.

Mr. Obama now hovers in the gray area between likely victory and likely defeat, with the country divided nearly 50-50 on his performance. It is roughly the same place where Harry S. Truman, Gerald R. Ford and George W. Bush were when they ran as incumbents. Mr. Truman and Mr. Bush won close races, while Mr. Ford lost one. You can cut through some of the noise of the coming campaign by focusing on this approval number.

Obviously, an especially strong or weak opponent could change the calculus. But Mr. Romney appears to be a fairly standard candidate. Polls indicate he would do better against Mr. Obama than any of his rivals for the nomination but not better than Mr. Obama’s numbers suggest on their own.

According to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll, 46 percent of voters approved of Mr. Obama’s performance, 44 percent disapproved and 10 percent expressed no opinion. That leads to a net approval rating — the percentage of voters who approve, as a share of those who express an opinion — of 51 percent in the above chart. (The chart also uses net approval rating for the other presidents, though their number is based on the final poll before the election.)

At the same point in their presidencies – early in an election year – Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon, Lyndon Johnson and Dwight D. Eisenhower all had stronger approval numbers than Mr. Obama, according to Gallup. Those numbers largely held throughout the rest of the year, and all — except Johnson, who did not run for re-election — went on to win.

Jimmy Carter also had a strong approval rating in the early months of 1980 – above 60 percent in net approval (with 53 percent approving and only 31 percent disapproving) – but it weakened sharply over the year as the economy deteriorated. George H.W. Bush was already below 50 percent in February of 1992 and weakened further.

The younger Mr. Bush, Mr. Ford and Mr. Truman, like Mr. Obama, were all hovering near 50 percent and remained in the same range throughout the year.

The most important driver of Mr. Obama’s approval rating, barring an unexpected foreign-policy development, is likely to be the economy. In a previous Five Thirty Eight post, Nate Silver argued that monthly nonfarm employment growth is a better predictor of presidential elections than many other economic indicators, like the unemployment rate or economic growth.

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What issue are conservatives sure will end the Obama Presidency?
Universal Healthcare plan
23%
Iran conflict & Gas prices
0%
His Origins/Birth/Upbringing
0%
The bailouts from 2008-2009
0%
Putting America first, Israel second
0%
Arab Spring & Gas prices
0%
Chinese economic expansion
0%
European debt crisis
0%
Wars in Iraq & Libya
0%
US economic recovery & Unemployment rate
77%
This is not a scientific survey, click here to learn more. Results may not total 100% due to rounding and voting descrepencies.
User Comments
Posted 1022 days ago
0 up votes, 0 down votes
All the above. His policies are a total disaster for the Nation!
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