By CNN’s Wolf Blitzer
(CNN) – There are many advantages an incumbent president has in seeking re-election. The power and perks of the White House are significant.
But those advantages certainly don’t guarantee a second term. There have been many one-term presidents.
I was thinking about that when I reviewed the latest CNN-ORC International poll numbers on President Obama’s job approval. Right now, 46% approve of the way he’s handling his job; 52% disapprove.
That has been steady for months: 46% in October; 45% in July, August and September.
We went back and looked at how other incumbent presidents were doing a year before their respective bids for re-election. The results can be illuminating.
President George W. Bush was at 50% approval in November 2003 and defeated John Kerry a year later.
President Bill Clinton was at 52% approval in November 1995 and defeated Bob Dole a year later.
President George H.W. Bush was at 56% approval in November 1991 but was defeated by Bill Clinton a year later. The deterioration of the U.S. economy during that year certainly undermined Bush’s chances. Remember James Carville’s famous slogan: “It’s the economy, stupid.”
President Ronald Reagan was at 53% approval in November 1983 and defeated Walter Mondale a year later.
President Jimmy Carter was at 38% approval in November 1979 and was defeated by Reagan a year later.
President Gerald Ford was at 41% approval in November 1975 and was defeated by Carter a year later.
Finally, President Richard Nixon was at 49% approval in October 1971 and defeated George McGovern a year later. (Unfortunately for Nixon, he was later forced to resign because of the Watergate scandal.)
The bottom line for President Obama right now: He needs to improve his job approval numbers over the next year. If he wants to be re-elected – and he does – he will probably have to increase that 46% to closer to 50% or higher.
Still, much will also depend on so many other factors including the Republican nominee.
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