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Tuesday, May 04, 2004

The Horse Race


Judging from Bush's approval ratings, which many political scientists believe are the best measure of his chance of re-election, Bush is in Gerald Ford territory. Ford, you may recall, narrowly lost. Bush is doing better than the two recent presidents who were decisively defeated for re-election (Bush I and Carter) but worse than the five since Eisenhower that were re-elected in landslides. Personally, I remain mystified why Bush has this much support.

Here's the figures, based on Gallup poll answers to the question "Do you approve or disapprove of the way George W. Bush is handling his job as president?" as reported in a recent L.A. Times article.

Approval/
Year Disapproval/ Election
(poll date) Don't Know Margin outcome
----------- ----------- ------ --------

Eisenhower 1956 (5/10) 69-17-14 +52 Won
Johnson 1964 (5/6) 75-10-15 +65 Won
Nixon 1972 (4/28) 54-37-9 +17 Won
Ford 1976 (4/9) 48-41-11 +7 Lost
Carter 1980 (5/2) 43-47-10 -4 Lost
Reagan 1984 (5/3) 52-37-11 +13 Won
H.W. Bush 1992 (5/7) 40-53-7 -13 Lost
Clinton 1996 (5/12) 55-39-6 +16 Won
Bush 2004 (4/18) 52-45-3 +7 ?


UPDATE: I've added "don't know" to the table. Does the extraordinarily low "don't know" figure for Bush mean that the electorate is especially polarized (the conventional wisdom)? Or does it just mean that with more exposure to polls, people are becoming more willing to answer a pollster's questions?
 
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