The controversy about astrology and the White House, touched off by Donald Regan's disclosures in his new book, has resulted in some loss of face for both Ronald and Nancy Reagan.
Relatively few voters (12 percent) now claim to believe in astrology, and Americans appear considerably more skeptical about it than they were a decade ago. A 1978 Gallup Poll found 29 percent of adults nationally claiming to believe in astrology.In light of the claims about the Reagans consulting with astrologers in planning the presidential schedule, one in six (17 percent) voters say their overall opinion of Ronald Reagan has become less favorable. At the same time, the proportion who disapprove of Nancy Reagan as first lady his increased significantly, and the public has become more critical of her role in influencing the president.
Although most voters (75 percent) say the astrology controversy hasn't affected their opinion of President Reagan, the change in opinion that has occurred has been almost entirely negative. Only 1 percent profess to having a more favorable opinion of the president as a result. And the damage has not been limited to those generally prone to be critical of Reagan. Sixteen percent of political Independents and 11 percent of Republicans say they think less of Ronald Reagan because of the astrology controversy.
In April 1987, around the time Nancy Reagan played a role in the dismissal of Donald Regan as White House chief of staff, her approval rating among the public stood at 58 percent approval vs. 23 percent disapproval.
Currently, among all voters, 53 percent approve and 31 percent disapprove of the first lady. During the same period, the proportion who feel she is more influential on policy than other first ladies is up from 62 percent to 70 percent. More importantly, the percentage who think she has too much influence has increased from 32 percent to 43 percent.