A week before Dwight D. Eisenhower was sworn in as president, a January 1953 Gallup poll found 78% of Americans approving of the way the World War II hero had "dealt with problems he has had to face since his election in November." Partisanship was almost absent in these views, as 70% of Democrats, as well as 90% of Republicans, tipped their hat to him.
|Jan. 11-16, 1953|
The question didn't specify the problems Eisenhower faced during the presidential transition period -- what George Gallup and others at the time referred to as the "interregnum." However, his Cabinet selections and preparation to take over management of the Korean War -- including traveling to South Korea on a fact-finding mission shortly after he was elected -- were likely paramount factors.
Eight years later, Gallup asked the same question about incoming president John F. Kennedy and found 68% approving of how he had handled the problems facing him since the election. Since 1992, Gallup has gotten at the same issue with a different question, asking, "Do you approve or disapprove of the way … is handling his presidential transition?" Bill Clinton in 1993, George W. Bush in 2001 and Barack Obama in 2009 all earned solidly positive reviews, ranging from 61% to 83%. The same cannot be said for Donald Trump in 2017 -- only 44% approve of his transition.
Some Familiar Complaints
Despite Eisenhower's broad popularity in 1953, Gallup probed beneath the veneer of public approval, asking, "Has Eisenhower done anything so far that you disapprove of?" Nearly three-quarters (73%) answered that he had not. Meanwhile, 10% offered a criticism of some kind, with some of these directed toward his Cabinet (2%), his handling of Korea and his connection to the leading conservative Republican of the time, Sen. Robert Taft (1%).
In the 1953 Gallup news release, these quotes were offered as examples:
- "He shouldn't have approved Durkin as secretary of labor."
- "He's letting Senator Taft have too much to say over administration policies."
- "He appointed too many businessmen to his Cabinet -- it's purely a 'big business' administration."
Read the original Gallup news story here.
These data can be found in Gallup Analytics.
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