Reagan’s Rating Shows First Gain in 4 Months

Special to The Times

Although a substantial proportion of Americans fault President Reagan for his visit to the Bitburg military cemetery in Germany and his embargo on trade with Nicaragua, his overall standing with the public seems not to have suffered, according to a Gallup Poll released today.

In fact, the recent decline in the President’s performance ratings from 64% approval in late January to 52% in mid-April now appears to have ended. In the mid-May Gallup Poll, 55% approve of Reagan’s overall performance in office, 37% disapprove and 8% withhold judgment. The latest survey was conducted before the announcement of the President’s tax proposal.

Although the three-percent00age-point improvement since April in Reagan’s competency rating is in itself not statistically significant, it marks the first uptick in his ratings’ trend in almost four months.

While Reagan’s approval ratings have fluctuated since March, the proportion disapproving has remained at a steady 37% in all three surveys conducted during this period, with an unusually high 11% undecided vote in the April survey.


Public opinion about the controversial Bitburg affair is evenly divided, with 42% approving and an equal number disapproving of the President’s May 5 visit to the German cemetery, where Nazi Waffen SS troops are buried.

The current reversal in Reagan’s downward trend marks a return to his camp of certain population segments that had been among the heaviest defectors in the April survey.

In that survey, for example, an 11-percentage-point difference separated men and women, with 58% of men but only 47% of women approving of Reagan’s performance. In the new survey, the gap was a more typical four points, with 57% of men and 53% of women approving of Reagan.