Reagan came into office with initial job approval ratings as high as 60% by mid-March 1981. On March 30, Reagan was shot by John Hinckley and the resulting concern and sympathy lifted his ratings to 68% by May.
But even as Reagan recovered from his wounds, the public's concerns about the bad economy didn't, and his ratings began to fall as each month went by.
By the end of 1981, Reagan's job approval rating had drifted down to 49%.
In 1982, the public's view of the economy remained sour, and his ratings during 1982 fell even further, hitting the 40% range, ending his second year at 41%. In the '82 midterm elections, the Republicans lost 28 seats in the House. The cause? The economy and the voter's anger over it.
The unemployment rate in Reagan's second year - a full year after his tax cuts for the top 1% - rose to a post WW2 high of 10.8%. According to Gallup, only one third approved of the way he was handling the economy, with the deficit exploding due to his tax cuts benefiting the wealthy.
At the beginning of '83, his approval rating fell to a low of 35%.
The economy, and Reagan's approval, only started to improve in his third year.
01/1981 - Unemployment rate 7.5% .... Reagan sworn in.
02/1981 - 7.4%
03/1981 - 7.4%
04/1981 - 7.2%
05/1981 - 7.5%
06/1981 - 7.5%
07/1981 - 7.2%
08/1981 - 7.4% *Reagan cuts taxes for top 1% & says unemployment will DROP to 6.9%.
09/1981 - 7.6%
10/1981 - 7.9%
11/1981 - 8.3%
12/1981 - 8.5%
01/1982 - 8.6%
02/1982 - 8.9%
03/1982 - 9.0%
04/1982 - 9.3%
05/1982 - 9.4%
06/1982 - 9.6%
07/1982 - 9.8%
08/1982 - 9.8%
09/1982 - 10.1%
10/1982 - 10.4%
11/1982 - 10.8%
For some contrast:
At the start of President Obama's second year, the unemployment rate has so far fallen from 10% to 9.7%, and in the BEA/U.S. Department of Commerce's now revised estimate for GDP growth in the 4th quarter of 2009, released on Friday, the number went up from the initial estimate of 5.7% to 5.9% - the best growth in over six years.
In addition, as some may have already seen, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office last week released its study on the impact of the Recovery Act so far:
The stimulus created up to 2.1 million jobs in the last three months of 2009.
It boosted the economy by up to 3.5 percent.
It lowered the unemployment rate by up to 2.1 percent during that period.
In 2010, the package is expected to boost GDP by between 1.4 percent and 4 percent.
In 2010 the package is expected to bring down the unemployment rate by between 0.7 percent and 1.8 percent.
And in contrast to Reagan's approval numbers, as Gallup released today, President Obama has hovered at just below or above 50% in a "high degree of stability" since August, while Reagan's had plummeted to 40% or below during the same period.
In addition, despite the talk of independents and his base leaving him in droves:
It must have been quite a luxury for Reagan's administration to not have a breathless, narrative-driven, fact-allergic, obituary-addicted, lunatic 24-hour cable news cycle during their first term.
UPDATE: Thanks for putting this on the Rec list, guys. I wasn't expecting that. Glad you like the diary.