Newt Gingrich wants you to believe that, compared to Ronald Reagan, President Barack Obama is a pale shadow, his presidency characterized by half-starts and falters, while Ronald Reagan’s every word connected with every voter, every time, all the time.
Don’t believe it.
According to Gallup, Reagan’s lifetime polling average was 53%, with a first-year average of 57% (his second and third years were in the 40s!). Other pollsters concur. This is thoroughly unremarkable, and either at or below Obama’s average numbers halfway into his first year, which really aren’t that bad. But it gets worse. Contrary to the ever-present Republican-generated Reagan mythos — truly, the Platonic form of Astroturf — Reagan’s ideas were even less popular than him. At no point in his presidency did Reagan’s policies, many of which passed, ever hold sway with a plurality of the American people. His opposition was mollified into complacency, at best, which may be something, but there was never a grand Reagan-era conservative consensus.* By that marker, at least, Gallup shows signs of Obama beating Reagan on all issues but health care and the economy. Both will swing back our way in time.
One final point on Reagan. Conservative groups have been circulating this video around, of the Gipper himself opposing “socialized medicine.” Compelling, no?
No. He was talking about Medicare. All this proves is that the Republican Party is generally consistent, both with the style of their name-calling, and their tendency to oppose successful programs.
* – I can’t source this claim until I get back to Manhattan. It’s flagged in a book on the right of my top shelf, but it’s there, and I’m here.