A Reagan Comparison the White House Wants to Make
Reagan had lower employment figures and approval ratings at the end of his first term than Obama does now--and it didn't turn out all too badly for him
Ronald Reagan is respected among most Americans as a president who tore down the Iron Curtain, ushered in a 15-year bull market, and generally restored optimism. Even Barack Obama admitted in 2009 that "I think Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America."
But if you flash back to this day in 1982, nearly two years before Reagan declared that it's "morning again in America," the president had a 42 percent approval rating, according to Gallup. For comparison, Obama has a 45 percent Gallup approval rating. (You can compare historic data with this great interactive graph).
Unemployment was also worse during Reagan's first term that it is during Obama's. The first map from the Bureau of Labor Statistics below shows regional unemployment in October 1982, right before Reagan's Republicans lost 26 seats in the midterms. The second map shows the most recent unemployment map available, from August 2010.
This probably doesn't mean that Democratic bleeding will be limited to 26 seats (larger cultural factors are at work), but it does mean that Obama has plenty of time after the midterms to rescue his presidency. And while Obama-Boehner may not have the charm of Reagan-O'Neill, it'll surely help the White House to differentiate its policies from Congress.