History says President Obama’s sagging approval ratings — which this month have neared the lows of his entire presidency — aren’t going to improve before he leaves the White House in 2017. And that’s a troubling trajectory for Democrats feeling the pressure of reelection next year.
Historically, presidents whose approval plummets in their second term don’t recover. Such was the case for Harry Truman back in 1950, according to Gallup surveys. After reaching a high of 46 percent in July of 1950, the 33rd president’s approval never rose above 35 percent during the last two-and-a-half years of his presidency. The precipitous drop coincided with America’s involvement in the Korean War.
Another war helped bring about a more recent president’s downfall. George W. Bush never topped 50 percent after March 2005 and spent most his remaining tenure mired in the low to mid-30s, thanks in part to the unpopularity of the Iraq War. His approval further declined near the end of his presidency, when the financial crisis of 2008 left the economy in tatters.