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Approval Highs and Lows

President Bush's job approval has tied its low mark in Washington Post-ABC News polling. Few other presidents have experienced such negative ratings since 1938 and only one has been so consistently on the negative side. But none reached the peak Bush hit one month after 9/11. For more on Bush, check out Peter Baker's analysis on The Trail.

Here's a look at the highs and lows each president has experienced since 1938:


Presidential Job Approval: The Highs*

Date% saying "approve"Events
George W. BushOct. 9, 200192%One month after the terrorist attacks of September 11, President Bush achieved the highest approval rating of any president since modern polling began.
George H.W. BushMar. 4, 199190%With the ground war in Iraq less than a week old, the public was near-unanimous in its support for the president.
Harry S. TrumanJune 5, 194587%Another president buoyed by wartime success, Truman reached a peak on the eve of V-E Day.
Franklin D. RooseveltJan. 13 and 31, 194284%FDR had widespread support in these Gallup polls, among the first conducted after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
Lyndon JohnsonMar. 5, 196480%Johnson hit his highest approval rating in early 1964, but did not dip below 70 percent approval until a year later.
John F. KennedyMar. 13, 196280%After Kennedy took office, his popularity grew for more than a year, peaking in early 1962.
Dwight D. EisenhowerDec. 19, 195678%Ike's approval peaked in the post-war good times of 1956, also Elvis Presley's breakthrough year.
Jimmy CarterMar. 21, 197775%Carter earned his highest approval rating two months after taking office. After a late-March approval rating of 72 percent, he never again topped 70 percent.
Ronald ReaganMar. 31 and Apr. 22, 198173%Reagan's approval rating also peaked shortly after taking office, though he nearly reached a high again in mid-1986.
Gerald R. FordAug. 19, 197471%Not long after this, the first measure of Ford's approval rating, he pardoned Nixon and disapproval of his job performance rose 25 percentage points.
Bill ClintonJan. 30, 199869%About a week after the Monica Lewinsky scandal broke, Clinton's approval rating topped out.
Richard NixonNov. 17, 1969 and Jan. 29, 197367%Nixon notched his highest approval rating twice: in the first year of his term and as ceasefire was declared in Vietnam.


Presidential Job Approval: The Lows

Date% saying "disapprove"Events
Harry S. TrumanJan. 11, 195267%Though not statistically different from Nixon's 66 percent, Truman clocked this lowest rating ever recorded during the Korean War.
Richard NixonAug. 5, 197466%Just days before leaving office, Nixon received one of the most negative job approval ratings recorded thus far.
George W. BushMay 15, 2006, Jan. 19, 2007 and June 21, 200765%Bush's disapproval rating has been above 50 percent for the past two years. No president since Truman has had such sustained negative ratings.
George H.W. BushAug. 4, 199264%Three months before losing his bid for re-election, Bush's disapproval rating peaked.
Jimmy CarterJuly 2, 197959%1979 was not Carter's best year, just a few months after being attacked by a killer rabbit,** his disapproval peaked.
Ronald ReaganJan. 22, 198354%Reagan's low point hit two years into his first term, just days before a State of the Union speech outlining his plan for bringing the nation out of economic trouble.
Lyndon JohnsonAug. 12, 196852%A few months after deciding not to seek a second term as president, Johnson's disapproval rating rose above 50 percent for the first time during his tenure.
Bill ClintonJan. 4, 1995, Aug.-Oct. 1994 and Aug. 8, 199351%Disapproval of Clinton's job performance reached a peak three times: as Newt Gingrich's Republican majority took over the House, during the Paula Jones scandal and as the debate surrounding universal health care heated up.
Gerald R. FordApr. 21, 1975 and Nov. 24, 197546%Ford never regained popularity after pardoning Nixon, but even at his lowest, around four in 10 approved of the job he was doing.
Franklin D. RooseveltNov. 12, 193846%FDR's worst rating occurred as the country was still climbing out of economic depression.
Dwight D. EisenhowerApr. 1, 195836%I like Ike indeed! Even at his worst, just one-third of Americans disapproved of the job Eisenhower was doing.
John F. KennedySept. 17, 1963 and Nov. 13, 196330%With approval ratings near sixty percent, Kennedy's worst was never very bad. His worst rating at 30 percent disapproval occurred twice in the last months of his presidency.

*Data on presidents Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford and Carter are from Gallup. Data on presidents Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Clinton and George W. Bush are from Washington Post-ABC News polling.

**For more on Carter's killer rabbit, click here .

By Jennifer Agiesta  |  July 24, 2007; 9:26 AM ET
Categories:  Post Polls  
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