Search This Blog

Friday, October 12, 2012

Polarization and Presidential Approval

Four years ago, political scientist Gary Jacobson looked at public opinion data and concluded that George W. Bush had become “the most divisive and polarizing president in the more than 50 years that public opinion polls have regularly measured citizens' assessments of presidents."  In January, Gallup reported that Bush and Obama accounted for the seven most polarized years in its measurement of presidential approval. Now, Gallup reports:
Thus far in October, an average of 90% of Democrats, and 8% of Republicans, approve of the job Barack Obama is doing as president. That 82-percentage-point gap in approval ratings by party is on pace to be the largest Gallup has measured for a recent incumbent president in the final month before Americans vote on his re-election. George W. Bush had an 80-point party gap in approval, while the October gaps for other presidents were less than 70 points.
It may be inaccurate to attribute the polarization exclusively to the actions of either president.  Rather, the parties are polarizing on a wide range of issues