Gordon L. Bowen, Ph.D.
Political Science and International Relations disciplines
Mary Baldwin College
Staunton, VA USA 24401
General Propositions: The Rally 'Round the Flag Effect. Presidential popularity, as measured by poll responses to "do you approve or disapprove of the job the president is doing," tends to rise during international crises, especially when presidents act in response to dramatic international events. When presidential popularity rises, disapproval of Presidential job performance falls. This "rally round the flag syndrome" has occurred in response to the events of Sept. 11, as is clearly illustrated in the chart below.
Key: Orange upper line above: percent responding "approve" to the question "Do you approve or disapprove of the way Pres. George Bush is handling his job?" ; Blue lower line above: percent responding "disapprove" to the question. Dates of polls and sources for the polls are listed below.
Sources:Technical Information:Polls done by various organizations (enumerated below). All polls accessed through the Reference option of Lexis Nexis, as coordinated by the Roper Center (University of Connecticut).Organization and presentation done by Prof. Gordon L. Bowen, Mary Baldwin College, Staunton VA 24401;
Data for Presidential Job Approval Ratings chart (above) come from 2001 polls done on:
- Jan. 24: 46% approve of job Bush is doing, 14% don't (Opinion Dynamics; n= 902).
- Feb. 15: 54% approve, 21% don't (Princeton; n= 1004).
- Mar. 09: 58% approve, 29% don't (Gallup; n= 1015).
- AprA: Apr. 06: 59% approve, 30% don't (Gallup; n= 1025).
- AprB: Apr. 19: 63% approve, 32% don't (ABC/Wash.Post; n= 1350).
- May 15: 56% approve, 36% don't (Gallup; n= 1010).
- June 28: 52% approve, 34% don't (Gallup; n= 1014).
- July 17: 49% approve, 34% don't (Harris; n= 1015).
- AugA: Aug. 03: 55% approve, 35% don't (Gallup; n= 1017).
- AugB: Aug. 28: 50% approve , 38% don't (CBS; n= 850).
- SepA: Sep. 07: 51% approve , 39% don't (Gallup; n= 1004).
- SepB: Sep. 11: 72% approve, 15% don't (CBS; n= 1041).
- SepC: Sep. 13: 78% approve, 15% don't (Harris; n= 1082).
- SepD: Sep. 15: 82% approve, 12% don't (Hart/Teeter; n= 821).
- SepE: Sep. 21: 90% approve, 6% don't (Gallup; n= 1005).
- SepF: Sep. 27: 86% approve, 9% don't (Princeton; n= 1000).
- OctA: Oct. 08: 76% approve, 16% don't (ABC; n= 1009).
- OctB: Oct. 11: 88% approve, 8% don't (Princeton; n= 1004).
- OctC: Oct. 17: 84% approve , 10% don't (Opinion Dynamics; n= 900).
- OctD: Oct. 25: 85% approve, 10% don't (Princeton; n= 1005).
- OctE: Oct. 31: 84% approve, 8% don't (Opinion Dynamics; n= 900).
- Nov. 5, 2001: 89% approve, 9% don't (ABC/Wash.Post; n= 756).
for interesting related discussion of this rally, see:
Marc J. Hetherington and Michael Nelson, "Anatomy of a Rally Effect: George W. Bush and the War on Terrorism," PS: Political Science and Politics (Jan. 2003).
Another good source for public opinion information about foreign policy is:
- PIPA, the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland, which issues numerous useful studies on Americans' views of world problems.
- See also the Public Opinion Resources section of the MBC Political Science Department's Research page
This Page last modified March 16, 2004
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