As President Donald Trump heads into his 100th day in office on April 29, Business Insider took a look at why there’s such an emphasis on a president’s first 100 days in office. Political Scientist David Jones says the “100 days” number is arbitrary and explained why he thinks we should wait a few months more before looking at Trump’s record.
Following is a transcript of the video.
It’s not fair to judge presidents by their first 100 days. It’s both been a media narrative, and candidates themselves have fed into that, talking about what they’re going to do during that first 100 days.
Only two presidents have produced legislation we would consider historic or landmark acts, and those were Lyndon Johnson in 1965, with the Elementary and Secondary Education act, and then Barack Obama and his economic stimulus package passed early on in his term in 2009.
Most of the other important legislation that we look back and think of say, the 1965 Voting Rights Act, or President Reagan’s first budget, none of those were within the 100 days.
It is true that presidents do tend to be more productive earlier in their terms than later in their terms, in general. When presidents’ approval ratings are higher, which usually happens at the beginning of their terms, members of Congress, seeing that they’re popular back in the district, are a little more amenable to being receptive to presidential requests. As the term goes on, a president makes more enemies, and Congress becomes less receptive.
It is fair to judge a president based on their legislative record after about a year. The data that I looked at showed that maybe about a third of all the things that a president is going to do during his term might get accomplished
in that very first year.
After about a year, already Bill Clinton, George Bush — some of these presidents who had nothing to show during the first 100 days were quite productive and that ended up being a good predictor of all the things they accomplished and that ended up being a good predictor of all the things they accomplished by the end of the first four years.
We have other presidents — Jimmy Carter is a famous example, who was not as legislatively successful. After the first year, he had no major landmark enactments and that turned out to be quite predictive of the rest of his first term.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.