President Barack Obama has just fallen below the 50% job approval rating mark for the first time in the RCP polling average (www.realclearpolitics.com).
The RCP average is useful because it averages many polls over a several week period, rather than just relying on one or two surveys or even the over night tracking polls. You avoid most blips and aberrations that way.
It has been a fast, steep drop for the president since January 20th, when he was in the mid-60s. He held steady in the 51-52% range since late-August, but started moving down again over the past week.
The political earth shifts on its axis when any president falls below the 50% mark. It makes legislation backed by the president much harder to pass, his re-election unlikely, and opens the door to a shift in Congressional control.
Of course that assumes he stays below 50.
Eisenhower fell below 50 for only brief periods during his 8 year presidency, by small amounts, and always recovered quickly. Unfortunately for Richard Nixon one of those periods was during the 1960 campaign.
Reagan and Clinton had steep falls below 50 early in their first terms, but recovered in time for easy re-elects. Bush43 fell briefly below 50 in May-June 2004, but recovered in plenty of time for an election day celebration.
Truman, LBJ, Carter and Bush41 fell below 50% and never recovered.
Your fearless bloggers at the Lexington Institute will keep you posted on this all-important political stat.
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