In it, but not of it. TPM DC

For Obama, The Speed Of Change Also Brings The Speed Of Falling Approval

Newscom / Dennis Brack

Obama's eight-month positive streak is only longer than Gerald Ford, at three months, and Bill Clinton's four months. With Ford, the Nixon pardon destroyed any good will he had coming into office after Watergate, and Clinton was tripped up by a series of botched appointments, the controversy over gays in the military, and eventually his high-profile haircut on an airport tarmac.

In his analysis, Gallup managing editor Jeffrey M. Jones said that the health care debate and concerns over government spending have weakened Obama. I asked Jones whether this may be true, but as a component of a larger explanation: That Obama is pursuing vast policy changes at a fast-forward pace -- the stimulus, health care, foreign policy, etc. -- and the sheer speed of his policies is causing the polls to react in the same manner.

Jones agreed that this is a fair explanation: "I think Obama has admitted it himself, that if he basically just came in and was a caretaker his approval rating would still be higher. But he's tried to do a lot of stuff."

Obama can take some heart in this, though: Ronald Reagan's streak only lasted ten months, which was also way below average.