Tuesday, December 7, 2010
I've seen several comments about the Gallup release yesterday detailing approval ratings for former presidents. I'll add two things. First, I'm always happy to see Jimmy Carter's reputation going down; he really was an awful president. Second, it's no surprise at all that Kennedy and Reagan continue to get very high marks. Four postwar ex-presidents have had serious campaigns to improve their legacy: Kennedy and Reagan had campaigns on their behalf, and Nixon and Carter basically campaigned on their own. Of course, the former two were more popular while in office, but overall it does seem to me that if you really want your reputation to flourish, what you need to do is to get some serious institutional momentum behind the idea that you were a great president. As always with public opinion on stuff like this, when what people hear is one-sided, it's apt to be pretty effective at moving the polling results.