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Gallup Poll: Clinton Tied With LBJ in Job Approval Rating

Aired December 20, 2000 - 1:27 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: And what about the Clinton legacy? There's some numbers on that today.

And we have Gallup Poll Editor in Chief Frank Newport with us to talk a little about that -- Frank.

FRANK NEWPORT, GALLUP POLL EDITOR IN CHIEF: Indeed, Lou. Let's look, first of all, at job approval, because that's how, since Franklin Roosevelt, we at Gallup have been measuring presidents' performances.

All-in-all, Bill Clinton's average job approval across eight years is just about average. But we'll show you some interesting findings on that in a moment. Actually, JFK has the highest average job approval of any president Gallup has ever rated, followed by Eisenhower and Bush the elder. He had all those high numbers during the Persian Gulf War. And then Clinton comes in tied with LBJ, it looks like, at about 55 percent average job approval. So it's an average overall.

But look at the legacy across his two terms. What we find is it wasn't impeachment that hurt him in terms of job approval, it was his first term. We had a bad economy, he only averaged 50 percent then. He's actually gone up since then. In the 1998, he had 63 percent, which is pretty high. So it's his second term he's been doing pretty good overall.

In fact, right now Clinton is at 66 percent. We want back and looked, and in December of the year they left office, that's the highest job approval for any president that we've ever measured -- higher than Reagan, Eisenhower or Ford, the next three, in the December of the year that they left office.

But that scandal is going to come back up again. This is the most fascinating chart we have, we think. This is rating Clinton on the economy from '94 through this year on average. Look how that's gone up. But look at this other line. We rate Clinton on his honesty. That went down all this time.

This is the Clinton administration in legacy: positive on how the job he's done, particularly in the economy, negative on honesty. And finally, a few months ago we said, what is he going to be remembered for when you ask the public? They say it will be the scandals that will be his legacy, not those very positive marks on job approval and the economy.

Lou, that's our review of President Bill Clinton. Back to you.

WATERS: All right, Frank, I guess we'll have to give it some time before we know what the true legacy of William Jefferson Clinton will be. Frank Newport, Gallup's editor in chief. CNN will continue following Bill Clinton along the way because he has some legal problems still ahead.

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