JFK, Dwight Eisenhower, George H.W. Bush Lead The Way

A look at the approval ratings of American Presidents of the past.Gallup has been providing Presidential job approval ratings data since mid-1945.

When analyzing this data, certain trends become quite apparent.

To start, job approval ratings tend to start out quite high at the beginning of a President's first term in office.

These ratings, in many cases, tend to drop off as their terms age. There is usually a great deal of optimism at the start of a new President's first term in office, and this optimism tends to get whittled away.

Presidential approval ratings tend to spike in times of conflict. At the start of the first Gulf War, President George H.W. Bush's approval rating spiked into the 90s. This was also the case for his son, President George W. Bush, after 9/11 took place and the United States started the hunt for Bin Laden.


President Kennedy had the highest overall approval rating of any President, as his first term in office was cut short due to his assassination.

According to Gallup, President Kennedy had an average approval rating of 70.1% during his time in the White House, which is the highest average approval rating on record.

President Eisenhower had an average approval rating of 65% during his eight years in office, which is enormously impressive. Usually Presidents in their second terms see their approval ratings drop off considerably, though Eisenhower managed to maintain a strong approval rating for almost the entirely of his Presidency.

President George H.W. Bush was a one-term President yet had the third highest average approval rating of any President. What happened? President Bush's approval rating soared during the Gulf War, which helped to push his average approval rating to the moon. Before he lost to President Clinton in 1992, President Bush's approval rating had plummeted due to a recession in the country, though his average approval rating remained quite high.


President Reagan, who is often regarded as one of the most popular Presidents in history, had some tough days early in his first term in office, as the economy struggled immensely due to stagflation.

Things rebounded strongly in the second half of Reagan's first term in office, as did his approval rating. Reagan finished his two terms in the White House with an average approval rating of 52.8%. Reagan had a much higher average approval rating during his second term in the White House compared to his first, which is quite unusual.


Here are the average job approval ratings for each President since 1945, courtesy of Gallup.com:

President John Kennedy, 70.1%
President Dwight Eisenhower, 65.0%
President George H.W. Bush, 60.9%
President Lyndon Johnson, 55.1%
President Bill Clinton, 55.1%
President Ronald Reagan, 52.8%
President George W. Bush, 49.4%
President Richard Nixon, 49.0%
President Barack Obama, 47.9%
President Gerald Ford, 47.2%
President Jimmy Carter, 45.5%
President Harry Truman, 45.4%
President Donald Trump, 41.0%

Filed under: General Knowledge

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