Obama Approval in Context

Lowell Feld brings some much-needed perspective to the future predictive value of Barack Obama’s currently mid-forties approval rating. Here’s Gallup’s comparison of Obama to some other recent presidents:

I don’t think progressives should draw false comfort from this. The mere fact that Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton had substantial political recoveries doesn’t make an Obama turnaround inevitable. And both Reagan and Obama were substantially hampered in their last six years in office by the presence of an opposition congress. Nevertheless, both men did turn their public approval ratings around and both men passed important pieces of bipartisan legislation even after losing control of congress.

The point is that nobody now looks back on 1982 and says “well, conservative overreach killed the right for a generation.” Instead it’s more like “conservatives changed a bunch of stuff then suffered a setback and there’s was some retrenchment but still the country was never the same.”