Barack Obama vs. George W. Bush — in charts!

August 22

A tweet from the good people at Quinnipiac University's polling arm caught our eye on Thursday. It was this one:

An interesting data point! In the states where Quinnipiac polls -- mostly states in the bluer Northeast -- Obama is underwater on approval in each. We were curious about this, and reached out to Quinnipiac to see if it would be generous enough to share a full set of the data with us. It was.

Here's the monthly average of polling on Obama's job performance for each month for each state in which Quinnipiac polled. It's a little messy, but that's OK. We'll pull a few interesting points out. (The gap in polling is around the 2012 election.)

Approvals_Obamav2

The first is that the states in which the firm polls are clearly more Democratic. The black dots represent national polls undertaken by Quinnipiac; the state results it gets are almost always higher. And you see why the fact that New York was under 50 percent is remarkable. It has consistently been above the rest of the pack in terms of support for the president. (In New York City, that stalwart support is even more obvious. Those dark blue dots (which haven't been polled on Obama's approval in a while) float well above the surface of every other state.

We were interested, though, in how this compared to Obama's predecessor. Quinnipiac gave us data for Bush, too.

Approvals_Bushv2

It's a smaller subset of states than the Obama polling, but still interesting. As you'd expect, the largely Democratic states are now usually below the national average.

You can see the sudden inflation of approval in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks and then the quick drop back down. The spike in national approval at the beginning of Year 3 of Bush's first term (that is, 2003) corresponds to the start of the Iraq War. And that's when the bottom falls out in New York City. The dark blue dots representing the heavily Democratic city scrape the bottom of the polling chart.

Then we wanted to take it one step further, so we did. Here, for your sliding enjoyment, is the monthly change in polling numbers for Barack Obama and George W. Bush in one of those deeply in vogue slider tools. On these graphs, the light-colored bar is the most recent poll number for the state if there was no poll during that month. The dark bars are the monthly average of polls in that state.

It's interesting to see how quickly Bush's approval slid down in contrast to Obama's. The bigger the rise, the harder the fall -- particularly in states that are predisposed to dislike you.

Philip Bump writes about politics for The Fix. He previously wrote for The Wire, the news blog of The Atlantic magazine. He has contributed to The Daily Beast, The Atlantic, The Daily, and the Huffington Post. Philip is based in New York City.
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