Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Unemployment Rate and Presidential Disapproval

by Bill McBride on 1/27/2010 06:31:00 PM

From Pew Research: It's All About Jobs, Except When It's Not

Recent history shows that the public response to all presidents has been shaped to some degree by rising or falling unemployment. However, only Ronald Reagan's ratings in his first term have borne as close a connection as have Obama's to changes in the unemployment rate.

In fact, the relationship between unemployment and presidential approval varies from crystal clear to murky. Indeed since 1981 there have been a number of times when the ties between changes in joblessness rates and public judgments of the president have been weak or even indiscernible. But the link is strongest when unemployment rises precipitously. And it weakens, or even disappears entirely, when other concerns -- such as national security -- become dominant public issues.
DataQuick NODs
Click on graph for larger image in new window.

This graph shows the relationship between the unemployment rate and approval rating. The report also breaks it down by each President starting with Reagan.

Although other factors matter - like 9/11 or the Iran-Contra scandal - it mostly is "the unemployment rate, stupid!", especially when the unemployment rate is high.