Obama Has Been Scandal-Free for 28 Months

Six more months and he sets the presidential record, computes Brendan Nyhan

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Bored with Obama's (relatively) drama-free presidency so far? According to Brendan Nyhan, of the University of Michigan, the president is due for his first big scandal pretty soon. The political scientist and blogger defines a political scandal as "a widespread elite perception of misbehavior whose occurrence is also influenced by political and media context." Then he took a look at the front page of The Washington Post:

I collect data for 1977–2008 (the period for which Post archives are available in electronic form). Controversies concerning the president and executive branch were defined as being called scandals if they were described as such (i.e., “scandal”) in the reporter’s voice or the headline. From this set of articles, I determine the first time the Post published a front-page story focusing on the controversy in question. This restriction helps identify the most salient controversies at the point at which they become highly prominent and generate widespread coverage.

With a little over 28 scandal-free months under his belt, Obama is nearing the longest-running scandal-free presidencies. Who's Obama out to top? His predecessor, George W. Bush. Nyhan calculated that it was 34 months between when Bush was inaugurated and the scandal concerning outing CIA agent Valerie Plame hit the Washington Post front page in October 2003.
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