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Obama's Approval Ratings Higher than Reagan's Were at This Point in First Term

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President Obama may not be the most popular man on the campaign trail at the moment, but the president is still faring better in the polls than Ronald Reagan was during this stage of his first term, the National Journal reports.

According to a new study by the Society for Human Resource Management/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll (which was conducted with the Pew Research Center), 47 percent of Americans would like to see Mr. Obama run for re-election in 2012.

The figure, though short of a majority, is significantly higher than Mr. Reagan's 36 percent rating on the same question in August 1982 - just months before his own party lost 26 House seats (but gained a Senate seat) in the midterm elections.

In an analysis of the poll, National Journal points out not only that Mr. Reagan was re-elected to his second term by a wide margin, but that the circumstances dictating his first term are not unlike those that Mr. Obama has faced over the past two years.

National Journal's Jason Dick points out:

"Both were elected during difficult economic times and succeeded unpopular presidents. Both came promising to change the way things were done in Washington. Both saw their footings slip and their ratings sag as the economies of their times suffered devastating recessions."

Indeed, unemployment rates in 1982 hovered at 9.7 percent - a tenth of a percent higher than the current national levels.

Ultimately, history seems to show that a president's popularity level two years into his first term is not a strong indicator of his re-election prospects: The Journal reports that former presidents George H. W. Bush and Jimmy Carter - both of whom lost re-election bids - enjoyed higher ratings than Mr. Reagan in the months leading up to the midterms.

The poll also says that 51 percent of voters likely to vote in next week's elections support the full repeal of health care reform, in the event that Republicans win a majority in the House and/or Senate.


Lucy Madison
Lucy Madison is a political reporter for CBSNews.com. You can read more of her posts here. Follow Hotsheet on Facebook and Twitter.
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