Biden’s approval rating is at its all-time low — how does that compare with past presidents’?


Alina Snopkowski, Editor

President Joe Biden’s approval rating is the lowest it’s ever been. According to recent Gallup polls, Biden’s current job approval rating is 42 percent, down from 57 percent at the beginning of his presidency. Biden’s current approval rating is lower than every other president Gallup has asked about at this point in their presidency — besides former President Donald Trump, who had just a 37 percent approval rating at around the same time in his presidency. The most dramatic difference between Biden and a past president is between him and former President George W. Bush — 301 days into their presidencies, Bush’s approval rating was 85 percent, particularly because at this time in 2001 the country was only a couple months removed from the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Of course, these things tend to fluctuate, and only two former presidents — Dwight D. Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy — enjoyed net positive approval ratings throughout their entire presidencies.

This chart is a comparison of the 14 most recent presidents and their job approval ratings from throughout their presidencies, using the numbers from Gallup’s site.

Alina Snopkowski

If Biden is counted, half of the fourteen most recent presidents have had average approval ratings over 50 percent (including him), while the other half have had averages below 50 percent. There is a large difference between the highest and lowest approval ratings throughout the presidencies of both Bushes and Harry S. Truman, but the difference between Trump’s highest and lowest approval ratings is only 15 percentage points — the same number between Biden’s, as of now.

Of course, Biden is a different case, considering he hasn’t even been in office for an entire year yet, but it is interesting to see the variations in approval ratings over time among other presidents. Truman, for example, had very high approval ratings after the end of World War II, but they had dropped dramatically by the end of his presidency. Lyndon B. Johnson’s approval was on a downward slope for most of his time in office, while from the end of his first year onward, former President Barack Obama trended mostly around or just under 50 percent.

Four of these former presidents also lost their reelection bids, and all had approval ratings right before the elections in the 30s or low 40s — Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, George H. W. Bush, and Donald Trump. Obama and George W. Bush both had approval ratings just below 50 percent but still won their second terms, while Truman had an approval rating of just 39 percent right before the 1948 election, which he still managed to win. The 2024 election is still far ahead of us and there’s no certainty that Biden will (or won’t) seek another term, however, so it might be premature to talk about that now.

Alina Snopkowski

So, something that we can discuss now — when compared to past presidents, Biden’s job approval rating was low right after his inauguration, too. Gallup’s first poll after his election showed a 57 percent approval rating, which beats Trump again (44 percent) as well as Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush (51 percent each). The younger Bush’s initial approval ratings were tied with Biden’s, which means that the other nine presidents had higher first approval ratings after they took office (Truman, Johnson, and Ford weren’t elected, which might count for something).

What I find particularly interesting, however, is the percentage change between Biden’s post-inauguration approval and his approval now roughly 300 days in. The comparisons with former presidents aren’t perfect here, because the polls were taken at different points in their presidencies, but every president back to Truman (besides Johnson) has a rating from within about a month shy of 300 days in office. These numbers show that most presidents have a lower approval rating at these later times than just following their elections, but Biden still ranks among the top (or bottom, depending on how you look at it) here — his approval rating fell by 26 percent from his inauguration until now, which beats every former president besides Truman and Ford (both at 28 percent), who weren’t elected to their first terms anyway. The most dramatic increase is 54 percent for George W. Bush, again due to Sept. 11.

No poll is perfect, and there’s many other ways of gauging how a president is doing in office, but public opinion polls can be an interesting and valuable way of measuring what people think about the president’s job performance. Historical trends can show how our current president stacks up against those in the past and give us a metric to see how the public’s opinion on a particular president has changed over time.

Biden isn’t even a year into his presidency yet, so just about anything could happen in terms of what the American people think about him. Compared to past presidents, Biden’s approval rating is not the worst in just about any way you slice it, however, his falling ratings since January do show that he has lost some support since then.

Don’t be afraid of stocks: an examination of financial bubbles and their history


Michael D’Angelo, Staff


Pictured above is the price index of Tulips from the infamous Tulip bubble burst of the 1600s in the Dutch Netherlands. The tulip bubble burst is the first ever recorded financial bubble in history.

Chances are if you checked the financial markets on Tuesday morning, indices were in the red. Many investors were concerned with a large federal stimulus package, the recent rise in commodities, and a rise in the 10-year U.S. Treasury Bond. Headlines regarding Michael Burry’s prediction about hyperinflation, Treasury Bonds, and WTI Crude Oil exploding to over $60 a barrel flooded the news on Monday and investors were alarmed. Tuesday’s open saw the tech heavy NASDAQ dropping nearly 3 percent. 

Amid growing concerns among investors, talks of a potential financial bubble, which occurs when asset prices become based on inconsistent and irrational views about the future, surfaced and Ray Dalio’s bubble indicator found 50 of the 1,000 biggest companies are in extreme bubbles. Although this is only half of the companies considered in a bubble from the Dot Com burst, investors should certainly take notice but not let news headlines deter from their equity investing.

Nonetheless, financial bubbles and investor psychology is still a fascinating topic. I recently became interested in the concept of financial bubbles after picking up a copy of the novel, Irrational Exuberance by Economist J.D. Shiller. In his book, Shiller accurately predicted the housing crisis and suggests monetary policy tools to ease the consequences of financial bubbles. The term “Irrational Exuberance” was coined by former Fed Chairman, Alan Greenspan, in the late 1980s. Below is the  breakdown and examination of the history of bubbles.

Financial bubbles have occurred all throughout history; In the 1630s, the Dutch went crazy for Tulip bulbs. The price soared from 1636 to 1637 and many went so far as selling their homes to purchase the simple garden plant. Eventually, the mass hysteria surrounding tulips faded and the price of tulips declined 90 percent.. 

Do you remember Isaac Newton, the pioneer of the concept of gravity? Well, Newton was burned hard and lost a fortune when the South Sea Company bubble burst in the 1720s. The South Sea Company was promised a monopoly by the British government to trade in South American colonies. British investors dived headfirst into the South Sea and the stock reached a high over 1,000 pounds and then came down after news of fraud and the monopoly fell out. 

Bubbles are no phenomena to the past as we have seen in the modern era. The Japanese real estate and equity markets exploded in the late 1980s and then came down.  The Dotcom bubble occurred in the United States in the late 1990s to early 2000s when investors dived into tech and internet stocks. The most recent bubble occurred with the U.S. housing market in the late 2000s to 2010s. Housing prices increased dramatically leading many investors to falsely believe the inability of the housing market to crash. The market declined dramatically, due to an excess of subprime mortgage loans, followed by the global recession due to mortgage securitization. 

History certainly has a knack of repeating itself and we could be seeing another bubble occur in any sector of the economy. With bubbles and investor mania creating a collapse of asset prices, the key to surviving the next bubble is to rely less on weekend worrying, where we, as retail investors or institutional investors, absorb weekly  news on the weekend leading to a belief in an economic doom at the start of a new week. To take from Peter Lynch, we should not get scared out of stocks.

Reasons to study history: the past is alive


James LeVan, Staff

When I was growing up, my parents did not keep any alcohol in the house. There was no beer in the fridge for my father to drink while he watched Sunday football, my mother would not sip wine with friends. They never went to beer distributors or liquor stores. In fact, I can only recall maybe one or two times that I ever saw them drink alcohol at a party. There were few things my parents were admittingly strict about as far rules went. Alcohol was one of them and they made it clear that I wasn’t allowed to drink until I turned 21. All of this has led me to have a weird relationship with alcohol. I don’t drink during the semester and only at night with food. I’m sure some reading this will not believe me when it comes to my impressive control of alcohol. Drinking always made me feel ashamed, as though I was doing something amoral and, worried about my mental health during this hellish year, I decided to give up drinking entirely.

My weird relationship with alcohol and my parent’s abstinence from it has always been a curiosity. Why did my parents dislike alcohol so much? My parents gave me and my brother plenty of freedom as we were growing up. So why was alcohol the big issue? I got my answer recently when talking to a distant cousin after the death of my grandfather. She informed me about my great-grandfather and his marriage to my great-grandmother was an unhappy one (from all accounts my great-grandmother was a borderline psychopath and I am not exaggerating that). He hated his wife and used alcohol to numb the pain of being married to her. In one drunken stupor, he decided to run away from his family in Philadelphia and went on a bender all the way to New York. His brother had to track him down up there and bring him back. His brother once again had to rescue him when one night he got drunk and punched a hole in a wall and he had to come over and make sure he didn’t kill my great-grandmother. I never knew my great-grandfather, he died before my father was born. However, his difficult marriage and the drinking created a ripple effect through time — my parents raising me in a dry house and my own awkward feelings toward alcohol today.

Whether we like it or not, we all feel the effects of the past on our lives. Every part of our environment (physical, political, cultural, economic) is the product of the actions of people who made decisions that we still feel even though many of them have passed and their names are not active in our public memory. In that regard, they act as ghosts haunting and whispering to us from beyond the grave. If the past is such a powerful force on us, then does that mean we should study history?

In all my years of studying history, I have come across dozens of reasons for the past. So many, in fact, that if I were to try and list them, I fear that I would lose your attention and push the word limit (which I do often). So, I will make this piece the first in what I hope will be a series of pieces advocating for my fellow explorers to take courses with our wonderful history faculty and even possibly dual major or major in history. My argument here is that events do not just happen in a vacuum. They have consequences and those consequences can transcend the distance of decades and affect us today. In the story above, I mention my great-grandfather and the hardship he endured and how that has led to my parent’s strictness when it came to drinking and to my own decision to abstain from alcohol. Learning my own family’s history showed me that there was a reason for our weirdness towards drinking. Professional historians, of course, do this as well, but on a more societal level — they find ways to show that the worlds they study are speaking to us now.

After the September 11 attacks, historians of ancients Greece and Rome felt their work had become relevant and that the conflicts between the United States and the Middle East were part of a pattern stretching back to the wars between the Persian Empire and the states of Athens and Sparta and how the Greek historian Herodotus framed these conflicts in his work. Or, to use an example from this decade, scholars have been making many connections between modern problems of police brutality and racial injustice and the racist policies and hierarchies that were put in place during the Antebellum and Jim Crow eras of American History to prevent Black Americans from achieving true equality in the United States.

Studying history allows us to better understand how the actions of those from yesterday are still affecting us now, allowing us to perhaps even one day break the chains of conflict and oppression and build something better. Or, at the very least, it will help us steer us into a better direction. Regardless, if you want to better understand this phenomenon, I strongly recommend that you take some history courses here at La Salle during your academic careers. If nothing else, you’ll see that we are just one link in a chain that has been forged long before any of us living now were born.

The rise and fall and rise again of the Republicans


James LeVan, Staff

The month of January has been one of the roughest times for the Republican Party in its history. With its members blamed for the attack on the Capitol, loss of donations from big business, divisions throughout the party and its flag bearer Donald Trump’s uncertain future, it can be easily assumed that the GOP is in ruins and on the cusp of a collapse. However, the Republican Party has a history of rising from the ashes of its self-inflicted wounds and returning to power. In the aftermath of Watergate and Nixon’s resignation, Republicans believed themselves relegated to a permanent minority status in Congress. However, a mixture of the Reagan revolution and the work of Newt Gingrich and his new generation of Firestarter Republicans helped the GOP gain control of both chambers of Congress in 1994. Calamity hit the Republican Party again in the late 2000’s when a mix of the Great Recession brought on by deregulation and frustration over then-President George W. Bush’s handling of the war in Iraq cost them both chambers of Congress in 2006 and boosted Barack Obama to the White House. Yet by 2014, a more hardline Republican Party, transformed by the Tea Party Movement, had regained both chambers of Congress and would, in some ways, set the stage for Donald Trump’s surprise victory in 2016. Perhaps the best example of Republican defeat and return comes from analyzing the party from 1932 through 1952 and how the GOP changed after what was one of its worst hours.

The 1920’s saw the Republican party put three men in the White House consecutively (Harding, Coolidge and Hoover) and maintain control of both chambers of Congress. With total power, the GOP set out to enact their platform agenda of lowering the taxes on the wealthy that were implemented by the Wilson administration to fight World War I and deregulation of the private sector. At the same time, they also raised tariffs on foreign goods and encouraged the world to buy American. The Republican Party of the 1920’s believed that the government that did the least did best. We regard the 1920’s as a roaring decade of extravagant wealth because it appeared that everything was going well, and the American economy appeared to be thriving. By 1929, however, the good times were over as the Depression ravaged the world and forced people out of work. The Hoover administration’s response to the Depression was essentially a doubling down on the same policies of lower taxes and deregulation. They had hoped that the free market would eventually correct itself. In the meantime, they told the American people to fend for themselves. The American people did not respond well to this call for personal responsibility when suffering during a catastrophe, a feeling many can relate to today. In response to the apparent lack of response from their leaders, the American people decided to give Hoover and the Republicans in  Congress the boot and decided to give Franklin Delano Roosevelt, along with his New Deal, a try, thus putting the Republican Party into a state of political exile for two decades.

Historian Heather Cox Richardson does an excellent job of documenting the Republican Party’s time in the political wilderness in her book “To Make Men Free: A History of the Republican Party,” which presents the entire history of the GOP from its founding before the Civil War to the Bush years. She describes the Republican Party, after their attempt to beat Roosevelt in 1936, as essentially being split into factions with two very distinct visions for both the United States and the party: the Taft wing and the Dewey wing.

Encyclopædia Britannica

Robert Taft disagreed with Roosevelt’s economic policies.

Led by its namesake Senator Robert Taft (the son of former president and chief justice, William Howard Taft) of Ohio, the Taft wing believed that the economic policies enacted in the 1920’s were fine and that FDR and the Democrats’ agenda would lead the nation toward socialism. According to Richardson, their hatred of the New Deal was so fierce that they were even willing to align themselves with the Southern Democrats, who were not keen on it because of the New Deal’s aid to African Americans. The Taft wing saw themselves as defenders of the American way of life, the Constitution and as the only true Republicans in the United States, unlike their rivals over in the Dewey wing of the party.

Opposite of the Taft wing were the Dewey Republicans, led by New York District Attorney, Thomas Dewey. This group believed that the government had a role in regulating business and were more open-minded about the New Deal. Dewey Republicans threw their support behind the establishment of a minimum wage, the Wagner Act and an end to child labor. They also differed from the Taft wing with their support for intervention into World War II, believing that such intervention would boost American production.

Encyclopædia Britannica

Thomas Dewey lead his namesake wing of the Republican Party.

Over the course of two decades, these two factions would duke it out over which side would be in control of the Republican Party, and each wing had their chance to prove their case to the American people. However, neither side was able to defeat FDR or his successor Harry Truman. There was one change, though. In 1952, when former allied General Dwight D. Eisenhower decided to enter the Republican primary as a Dewey Republican against Robert Taft. The Taft Wing could not hope to defeat the popular general who led the allied forces in Europe. As a consolation, Senator Richard Nixon of California was chosen as Eisenhower’s running mate to gain their support and unite the party. Together, the two won the 1952 presidential election. Eisenhower then set out to enact a fiscal policy of balanced budgets and reduction of the national debt while also advocating for labor rights and social services. Richardson says that the Republicans had been transformed through decades of exile and strife and came back a more egalitarian party akin to their forebears: Abraham Lincoln and Thaddeus Stevens.

The GOP has been down and beaten before and always finds its way back. The questions now are just how long will it be in the wilderness and what it will stand for. Will it dump Trump and attempt to cleanse itself of his legacy and most devoted supporters in Congress? Will it look to the examples of Thomas Dewey and embrace the more egalitarian vision his wing had or continue to channel the spirit of Robert Taft? Ultimately, the decision will fall upon Republicans to answer what it means to be a member of their party.