Inching up at the close

INCHING UP AT THE CLOSE…. The final Gallup poll on George W. Bush’s approval ratings was released this morning, and thanks to some 11th-hour goodwill from Republicans, the president will leave office with a 34% rating. That puts him near the bottom of modern presidents, but not quite at the very bottom.

In one sense, Bush’s final rating is worse than either Carter’s or Truman’s, because his disapproval score is significantly higher. Whereas Bush and Carter share identical 34% final job approval ratings, 61% of Americans disapprove of the job Bush is doing, compared with 55% who said they disapproved of Carter in December 1980. Similarly, whereas Bush’s final approval rating is slightly higher than Truman’s 32% in 1952, his disapproval rating is also higher (61% vs. 56%), resulting in a lower net approval rating for Bush.

Only Richard Nixon was explicitly less popular at the time of his exit than Bush is today. Gallup’s final approval polling on Nixon, in which 24% of Americans said they approved of the job he was doing, was conducted Aug. 2-5, 1974, less than a week before Nixon resigned from office over the Watergate break-in political scandal. […]

Bush has what most would consider the unwanted distinction of registering the lowest final job approval rating of any modern president leaving office at the natural end of his term.

Thanks to a large number of Republicans who’ve shifted of late to support him, Bush got a nine-point post-election bump, bringing his approval rating up to 34% from 25%. Without it, Bush’s final Gallup number would have been far more humiliating.

And in case you’re curious, Bill Clinton had the highest exit ranking of any modern president, leaving office with a 66% approval rating.

The full list after the jump.

1. Bill Clinton (66% approve, 29% disapprove)

2. Ronald Reagan (63% approve, 29% disapprove)

3. Dwight Eisenhower (59% approve, 28% disapprove)

4. George H.W. Bush (56% approve, 37% disapprove)

5. Gerald Ford (53% approve, 32% disapprove)

6. Lyndon Johnson (49% approve, 37% disapprove)

7. Jimmy Carter (34% approve, 55% disapprove)

8. George W. Bush (34% approve, 61% disapprove)

9. Harry Truman (32% approve, 56% disapprove)

10. Richard Nixon (24% approve, 66% disapprove)

Because both FDR and JFK died in office, Gallup does not include them in the list of final job approval ratings.