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Posted on Mon, Mar 5, 2012 : 10:45 p.m.

Presidents: Is the ghost of Ronald Reagan a good thing?

By Wayne Baker

Editor's note: This post is part of a series by Dr. Baker on Our Values about core American values. This week, Dr. Baker is discussing presidents and presidential hopefuls, past and present.

0305 ov Ronald Reagan in Eureka College football team 1929.jpg

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Famous photo of Ronald Reagan on his college football team in 1929.

Tomorrow is Super Tuesday, the day when ten states hold Republican primaries or caucuses. Over 400 delegates are up for grabs, according to Election Central. The states are Alaska, Georgia, Idaho, Massachusetts, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Vermont and Virginia.

To attract voters, GOP candidates have clamored to compare themselves with Ronald Reagan. Gingrich is famous for dropping The Gipper’s name more often than anyone else. Santorum waves his conservative principles, comparing himself to Reagan. Even Obama’s communication skills have been compared to the 40th president's.

Is being compared to Reagan a positive or negative thing? Just over half (51 percent) think it’s a positive thing, according to a poll by Rasmussen Reports. No other label breaks the 50 percent barrier as a positive one.

It also depends on who you ask. Overwhelming numbers of Tea Partiers (90 percent) say that the Reagan comparison is a positive thing. Almost as many Republicans (80 percent) agree. But only two of ten Democrats (21 percent) say the comparison is favorable.

Men are somewhat more likely than women to say the Reagan comparison is positive. The majority of Americans 30 years of age and older also view it positively, but only a minority of young Americans (43 percent) agrees.

Are you voting in Super Tuesday?

Even if you’re not voting, tell us …

Are comparisons to Reagan likely to sway voters?

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Originally published at, an online experiment in civil dialogue.

Dr. Wayne E. Baker is a sociologist on the faculty of the University of Michigan Ross School of Business. Baker blogs daily at Our Values and can be reached at or on Facebook.


Brandt Hardin

Tue, Mar 6, 2012 : 11:33 p.m.

Reagan has a legacy so distorted by the Conservative idolization of him that we may never have a clear picture of the real man behind the television set beyond the elaborate myth now concocted around him. Did he really rid the world of commie scum? Did destroy or save our economy? Check out my portrait of The Gipper in commemoration of the Reagan Centennial and help me figure it out on my artist's blog at <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Tue, Mar 6, 2012 : 6:21 a.m.

The Democrats use JFK as their populist icon, and Reagan is the darling of the Republicans. Proving: True Believers determine the quality of our political leadership and JUST LOOK how that's turned out. The only good thing I can think of about either idol is that, if memory serves, both decried the &quot;need&quot; for religionists in government. Religionist politics is just one of the roads today's &quot;Republicans&quot; have run themselves over the cliff on. Treating our right to vote as if we were voting on &quot;Oscar Night&quot; is going to destroy this country. Being a voter is NOT being a fan of any political ideology. We should never allow ourselves to be pushed into voting for any party candidate out of fear of the other party. BOTH parties are cast as villains by devotees of each party. That tells us something about the level of awareness and thought given by voters - and - about the honesty and intentions of both parties.