CNN's Schneider claimed record-low Bush approval rating "isn't too bad"; Gallup disagrees


CNN political analyst Bill Schneider opined that President Bush's 48 percent approval rating, as measured by a new CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll, "isn't too bad." But Schneider did not mention Gallup's own observation (subscription required) that "Bush's public support is significantly lower than support for all other two-term presidents at similar points in their second terms."

While Gallup made that statement based on an earlier poll, conducted March 21-23, that placed Bush's approval rating at 45 percent, the historical data Gallup presented indicates that 48 percent, Gallup's most recent figure, is still lower than the approval ratings of all other presidents since World War II at similar points in their second terms:

President Approval rating Date of poll
Truman 57% March 6-11, 1949
Eisenhower 65% March 15-20, 1957
Johnson 69% March 18-23, 1965
Nixon 57% March 30-April 2, 1973
Reagan 56% March 8-11, 1985
Clinton 59% March 24-26, 1997
Bush 45% March 21-23, 2005

Reporting on the poll on the April 5 edition of CNN's Inside Politics, Schneider asserted: "Despite all the complaints, President Bush's overall job approval rating is 48 percent, which isn't too bad." But in contrast to Schneider's spin, USA Today's report on the poll was headlined "Poll finds Bush suffering from 'second-term-itis,' " based on a comment about Gallup's findings from Andrew Kohut, director of the nonpartisan Pew Research Center for People and the Press.

Gallup noted that while 45 percent is the lowest approval rating of Bush's entire presidency, "there are some silver linings for him" because "other presidents' lowest approval ratings [at different points in their presidencies] were much lower" and because "Bush's average rating while in office remains among the most positive for recent presidents." But Gallup added that Bush's high average ratings are due "[i]n large part because of his response to the Sept. 11 terror attacks."

Reporting on Gallup's findings, an Editor & Publisher article remarked: "It's not uncommon to hear or read pundits referring to President George W. Bush as a 'popular' leader or even a 'very popular' one. Even some of his critics in the press refer to him this way. Perhaps they need to check the latest polls."

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