Strong Economies Lift Presidents. Trump Seems an Exception.

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tags: economics, Trump

Setting aside the question of how much credit first-year presidents deserve for a strong economy — they have less influence than you might think —President Trump’s ratings should be much better. A 4.1 percent unemployment rate, the lowest in 17 years, is more typically associated with a 60-plus-percent approval rating for a first-term president.

Lyndon Johnson is the only other first-term president in the era of modern polling with an approval rating under 50 percent while the jobless rate was below 5 percent. But this came after he’d already been president for about four years (having first finished out John F. Kennedy’s term) and as the Vietnam War began to drag down his presidency.

Mr. Trump started in a far worse position than other incoming presidents. His initial approval rating was in the low-to-mid 40s, while most presidents enter with an approval rating over 60 percent. It was fair to speculate that his approval ratings would gradually rise with the benefit of a strong economy. Perhaps he would even benefit from low expectations, as many suspected he did during the presidential campaign.

But by now the economy would have been expected to lift his approval rating into the 50s, based on an analysis of presidential approval and economic data going back to 1950. This is despite the tendency for presidents’ approval ratings to decline during their time in office. If the economy were to overcome Mr. Trump’s unpopularity and send his approval ratings up, you would think we would have started to see signs of it.

Read entire article at NYT

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