Galluping To A Conclusion

Gallup declares:

The 9-point drop in the most recent quarter [for Barack Obama's job approval rating] is the largest Gallup has ever measured for an elected president between the second and third quarters of his term, dating back to 1953.

The usual crowd goes wild. But any brief perusal of the data reveal a few things.

The decline in early presidential popularity has been pretty consistent since the 1980s, as American politics became more ideological and partisan. But here's the thing: Reagan at this point was at 57 percent, headed to 51 percent in the fourth quarter. Clinton was at 48 percent. Those two were the last two successful two-term presidents, and they look very similar to Obama. The first Bush was headed up toward 69 percent, only to fail to win re-election. George W. Bush at this point was in the 70s headed to the high 80s, but that was obviously 9/11. Before 9/11, Bush was at 51 percent - not far off Obama right now. And he was not tackling the worst recession in memory, a stratospheric debt (he inherited a surplus) and two failed wars.