Obama's 100 Days, by the Numbers

Obama's 100 Days, by the Numbers

By David Paul Kuhn - April 29, 2009

Wednesday marks 100 days. The first milestone of the presidency has garnered relentless media analysis. This writer is no exception, as I focused on the four major trends of President Obama's first 100 days. But enough already. There have been more words on the subject than even the most voracious reader wishes to digest. So lets break up the type with a bit of the visual. Below is a look at Barack Obama's first 100 days by the numbers.


Now to Obama's biggest supporters. The chart below shows the average approval rating by major voting blocs. No surprises here. The groups who voted for Obama in greater numbers are more likely to back him as president. Note that each bloc's name is in the background of the chart. The larger the font, the more the bloc approves of this president. Ergo, for example, the contrast between Republicans and Democrats. The data is also broken out into a standard bar graph to please traditionalists. For those readers who are sans magnifying glass, the graphic is followed by enlarged halves.




The only subject the media may have tracked as much as the president over the past 100 days is the stock market. So goes the Great Recession. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is represented by the dark line below. The blue line represents the arc of Obama's approval over the length of his first 100 days. His approval has largely bobbed in the 60s and averages at 63 percent. Below is a picture of how the Dow tracked beside Obama's approval. And again, it's followed by two magnified halves for easier viewing.




In the end, it's worth noting that 100 days is an imperfect harbinger of the outcome of a presidency. Modern presidents are almost never as popular at the end of their presidency as they were at their 100th day (Bill Clinton is the exception in the modern era).

Many presidents leave their first 100 days having yet to face their greatest test. George W. Bush was still to face the 9-11 attacks. John F. Kennedy was still to face the Cuban Missile Crisis. Some presidents' 100-day rankings are skewed by events. Had Ronald Reagan not been shot near the end of his first 100 days, he would have likely had the second lowest 100-day approval ranking (only standing above Clinton). The attempt on Reagan's life boosted his 100-day average 5 percentage points.

Below are the average approval ratings of the ten presidents preceding Obama. The first column lists the ranking over the course of their presidencies. Beside it are the rankings over their first 100 days. It illustrates why the milestone should be taken in but not taken as absolute.

Consider Jimmy Carter. He was more popular than Obama over the course of his first 100 days. But Carter left office the least popular president of the modern era.


* All polling data from Gallup.

David Paul Kuhn is a writer who lives in New York City. His novel, “What Makes It Worthy,” will be published in February 2015.

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