The White House, crowing about President Reagan’s popularity, warned congressional Republicans today that they will profit in next year’s elections by working with the President, not disagreeing with him.
With a number of divisive issues facing Congress as it returns to Washington, Reagan told Cabinet members on Tuesday and will tell GOP leaders next week, “We are dealing from a position of strength . . . on the popularity side in the White House . . . and we have a unique opportunity to have a strong fifth year,” spokesman Larry Speakes said.
Speakes released Gallup Poll data showing that Reagan’s popularity has risen since the start of his second term, compared to sharp drops for each of the four previous post-World War II Presidents who began a second term.
Asked about poll results showing negative attitudes toward specific issues while showing support for Reagan personally, Speakes replied:
“He didn’t get to 65 points with a song, a dance and nice smile. He got there because cumulative acceptance of his program is deep and widespread, 49 states deep. It’s 65 percentage points--an unheard of and unprecedented postwar popularity for a President.”
Reagan has risen from 62% to 65% in the Gallup approval rating since January, compared to an average 13-point drop over the same time span for predecessors Harry S. Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard M. Nixon--each of whom was elected as an incumbent.