Contrasts in popularity

CONTRASTS IN POPULARITY…. In general, I don’t report much on the George W. Bush’s approval ratings, in part because they’ve become rather predictable. “He’s very unpopular,” I can hear you saying. “We get it.”

But when the president reaches certain milestones in unpopularity, it’s probably worth making note of it.

As President-elect Obama visits the White House, a new national poll suggests that the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is the most unpopular president in the six decades since presidential approval ratings were first measured.

Seventy-six percent of those questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Monday disapprove of how George W. Bush is handling his job as President. That’s an all-time high in CNN polling, or in Gallup polling dating back to World War II.

“No other president’s disapproval rating has gone higher than 70 percent. Bush has managed to do that three times so far this year,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. “That means that Bush is now more unpopular than Richard Nixon was when he resigned from office during Watergate with a 66 percent disapproval rating.”

In fact, the Nixon comparison is illustrative in its severity. Nixon, exposed as a criminal and in the midst of becoming the only president to ever resign from office in disgrace, was 10 points more popular than Bush is now. (CNN released a handy chart on the subject.)

And speaking of presidents and polls, the latest Gallup poll shows Barack Obama with a 68% “favorable rating,” which is up six points from the last poll conducted before the election. This isn’t quite the same this as a job-approval rating — Obama hasn’t taken office yet, obviously — but this does make Obama one of the most popular president-elects in recent times.