President Biden’s First 100 Days: By The Numbers
President Joe Biden marks his 100th day in office tomorrow. As we explained back in February, though the magic of a leader’s first 100 days in office has roots going back to Napoleon Bonaparte’s return to Paris after exile, the idea of a three-month executive branch sprint put in the context of an American president was first dreamed up by President Franklin Roosevelt in a July 24, 1933 radio address.
President Roosevelt’s first day in office was March 4, 1933; his 100th was June 11, 1933. Facing a global economic meltdown, the new president insisted that Congress stay in session to work on his ambitious agenda to get Americans back to work and provide a social safety net for those worst affected by the Great Depression. Congress rose to the occasion, passing 76 pieces of legislation between March and June of that year. In a July radio address, President Roosevelt remarked upon the impressive record of those first 100 days.
So how is President Biden doing by comparison?
Forget legislation – let’s tackle the most important metric first: tweets. According to National Public Radio (NPR), cumulatively it is estimated that President Donald Trump spent nine total days of his presidency on Twitter, averaging 18 tweets per day. As of yesterday (April 27), President Biden had issued 589 tweets, or just six per day, the overwhelming majority of which have been published by White House staff.
He has a lot of catching up to do.
President Biden also has not signed as many pieces of legislation into law as most of his predecessors. While the American Rescue Plan was a significant achievement, other than that massive COVID-19 relief bill, President Biden has signed just 10 pieces of legislation into law.
The White House might not need to worry much about this metric, however. According to NPR, “[T]he first 100 days have become far less productive on the legislative front for modern presidents since the high-water mark of 76 laws set by FDR.” President Trump signed 28 bills into law during his first 100 days in office, President Barack Obama signed 14, and President Bill Clinton signed 22. President Biden’s legislative record does beat President George W. Bush’s. The younger Bush put his name on only seven bills in his first 100 days.
President Biden also has asserted his policymaking role more fully via executive order (EO). (An EO is a presidential directive that is meant to alter or manage federal government operations.) He has signed 42 EOs compared to 33 for President Trump and just 19 for President Obama. Presidents Bush and Clinton issued 11 and 13 EOs, respectively, during their first three months in office. In his first 100 days, President Biden also reversed 62 Trump-era EOs.
With the exception of the Trump administration, the Biden White House lags behind its most immediate predecessors in getting individuals confirmed by the Senate to top posts in the federal government. President Biden has had most of his top leadership nominations confirmed, however.
According to the Brookings Institution, the current administration is doing much better than previous ones in terms of diversity. Nearly 50 percent of appointed officials, for example, are women. That figure compares to about 20 percent for the Bush and Trump administrations and less than 30 percent for the Obama White House.
Given the Biden administration’s focus on addressing growing wealth inequality, it is unlikely you that will hear White House officials measuring President Biden’s success in terms of the stock market.
But he’s doing well when it comes to this metric.
According to Barron’s, “[T]he stock market is on pace to record its best start to a president’s term since that of Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1945.” The S&P is up nearly nine percent since President Biden’s inauguration day, trailing its performance at the beginning of FDR’s fourth term by only one percentage point. Barron’s noted the S&P has climbed an average of 3.8 percent in the first 100 days of the 24 presidential terms since 1929.
Perhaps Americans should not be surprised by the performance under a new Democratic administration. According to Barron’s, since the S&P’s inception, the market has increased in the first 100 days of a president’s term for 9 of 13 of Democratic (69 percent) presidents and five of 11 (45 percent) Republican presidents. Additionally, the index has risen an average of 7.3 percent under Democrats’ first 100 days but fell an average of 0.4 percent under Republicans.
Historically speaking, at least, the run should continue. In the second 100 days of a presidential term, the S&P has historically gained another 4.8 percent.
While the country is still embroiled in a pandemic, The Washington Post’s Max Boot argues President Biden’s first 100 days have been relatively “scandal free.” In contrast, in its first 100 days, the Trump White House was consumed by questions about campaign officials’ meetings with foreign officials and Russian interference in the election. Boot notes that, on day 110 of his presidency, President Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, who was leading the investigation.
President Biden also compares favorably to his predecessor when it comes to likability.
According to a Reuters/Ipsos survey, 55 percent of Americans approve of the president’s record over his first 100 days. Since his election last November, President Biden has gained support among white college graduates and racial minorities. President Trump’s approval ratings during his first three months were about 10 to 15 points lower in most surveys.
Even with majority support, however, the honeymoon for President Joe Biden is not quite as warm as other presidents have enjoyed
A recent ABC/Washington Post survey revealed 52 percent of Americans approve of President Biden’s work in office. When looking at those outlets’ previous polls, that number is lower than any president at 100 days in office since 1945 except for President Gerald Ford in 1974 (48 percent) and President Donald Trump (42 percent). Indeed, for the 14 presidents from President Harry Truman to President Biden, the 100-day average approval rating is 66 percent.
There are two metrics that, more than any other, might define President Biden’s first 100 days and what comes after.
The first has no comparison to other administration.
As NPR states, “[N]o president in modern history has taken office amid a global health crisis on the scale of what he inherited on Jan 20.” During the week that President Biden took office, the country was averaging 199,000 new COVID-19 cases per day. That figure has dropped 73 percent to 54,400 cases, in part because 140 million Americans have received at least one dose of a vaccine.
The coronavirus will continue to define President Biden’s first several months. A new number out this week could influence the latter half of his first term and, potentially, his reelection. On Tuesday, the U.S. Census Bureau announced that five states that voted for President Biden will lose seats in the U.S. House of Representatives – and the Electoral College – when congressional districts are redrawn by state legislatures later this year.
For the first time in history, California will lose a House seat. Illinois, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia also will lose seats. Texas, Colorado, Florida, Montana, North Carolina, and Oregon will all gain seats. That math results in a net gain of three seats for Republican-leaning states. As we pointed out last week, Democrats’ advantage in the House is already at its narrowest point in decades.
If President Biden thought getting his 100-day agenda through Congress was difficult, this week’s news could soon make policymaking even more difficult.