Reagan’s first term offers measuring stick for Obama
Both presidents were forced by events that preceded their elections to contend with economies in serious trouble. Both saw the unemployment rate rise sharply during their first two years in office — under Reagan, the rate hit 10.8 percent by November 1982 — and both saw their approval ratings decline as the numbers of jobless grew.
For much of this year, Obama and his team have taken some solace from the fact that Reagan’s approval ratings were even lower at comparable points in his presidency. That is no longer the case. In the past week, Obama has hit a new low in his approval rating, according to Gallup’s daily tracking. It now stands at 42 percent, virtually identical to Reagan’s in August 1982. (Both Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter dipped below 40 percent during their second year in office.)
Republicans suffered significant losses in the House in Reagan’s first midterm election, giving Democrats an even larger majority. Most Democrats are braced for a similarly bad night this November.