Obama popular as Carter

Despite the mass media splash about President Obama's approval ratings at the end of the first 100 days in office, President Jimmy Carter shared equally high ratings at the end of that time period.

Carter's average approval rating from January 1977 to January 1981 was 45.5 percent, the lowest for all modern presidents since the end of World War II.

Carter's presidency was badly damaged by the OPEC oil embargo, double-digit interest rates and the 444-day U.S. embassy hostage crisis in Iran. He was easily beaten after one term by Republican challenger Ronald Reagan in the November 1980 presidential election

Moreover, comparisons with approval ratings for President George W. Bush indicate Obama's strongly partisan approval ratings pose problems in the future, especially if the war in Afghanistan expands and the economic downturn continues.

Obama's 63 percent approval rating at the end of the administration's first 100 days in office is identical to Carter's 63 percent in 1977, according to the Pew Research Center.

Carter's presidency clearly shows that initially high approval ratings for Democratic presidents do not necessarily predict success.

While much is made of Bush's low approval ratings of 23 percent, mainstream media commentators rarely note Carter's ratings fell to a low of 28 percent in the period of June 29 to July 2, 1979.

The blog LittleGreenFootballs.com has pointed out another comparison between Obama and Carter. The Georgia governor also ran on a message of change in 1976, winning on a wave of emotion against the Republican Party after President Ford's decision to pardon President Nixon from any criminal offenses that may have been related to the Watergate affair.

Pew Research also reported Obama has the most polarized early job approval ratings of any president in the past four decades, despite the administration's repeated assertions of bi-partisanship.

Obama's 61-point partisan gap comes from relatively high support among Democrats (88 percent job approval rating) and exceptionally low ratings from Republicans (27 percent).

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