10 November 2005
What Americans think of their leaders is at times simple and at other times complex. The story of the Bush presidency so far has been more the former than the latter. George W. Bush the person is viewed just about as positively as George W. Bush the president.
Contrast that with our last two Democratic presidents. Both Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter showed substantial divergence between the job approval and personal favorability ratings. Clinton had high approval ratings in his second term but was not well-liked as an individual after the Lewinsky affair. Jimmy Carter was well-liked, but his performance in office was not. Surveys have shown that the candidate who more respondents report wanting to "have a beer with" tends to win, yet academic focus has been on job approval.
Posted by Barry Burden at November 10, 2005 1:09 PM
The degree to which you personalize your tenure might be a choice variable for the candidate/president (or, I guess, it could be an inalienable type). Take, for instance, how we know all of President Bush's little nicknames for his staff and the reporters on the whitehouse beat. Or think about the recent flack about the Myers nomination. Much of the implicit argument was that he knew her personally and could guarantee her character and competence. For someone managing like that, it's hard to imagine a rational divide between job-approval and personal approval.
You could imagine a much more policy-wonkish sort of president who could sustain a greater approval divide. Bush Sr. comes to mind.
Posted by: patrick at November 11, 2005 9:28 AM
As a humorous aside, the latest issue of the The Onion reports on a voter who got to have the proverbial beer with Bush. According the story, "Although respondents to a Pew poll taken prior to the 2004 presidential election characterized Bush as "the candidate they'd most like to sit down and have a beer with," Chris Reinard lived the hypothetical scenario Sunday afternoon, and characterized it as 'really uncomfortable and awkward.'"
Posted by: Barry Burden at November 17, 2005 2:48 PM