Believe It or Not, America Fell Out of Love With Reagan Kornacki: Conservative whitewashing obscures Gipper's real legacy By Nick McMaster, Newser Staff Posted Nov 6, 2010 1:45 PM CDT 91 comments Comments Headshot of then Republican President-elect Ronald Reagan while at his ranch in California shortly before his inauguration as 40th president of the United States. (Getty Images) (Newser) – Republicans sometimes bristle at the comparisons between Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama because of their midterm troubles. A favorite conservative theme about Reagan is that the "love fest" between him and the American people continued during and after his presidency, writes Steve Kornacki at Salon, who singles out this piece as an example. He says it's time for a reality check. He ticks off the Savings and Loan mess, the Iran-Contra scandal, and a national debt that tripled to $3 trillion. George HW Bush suffered for the sins of Reagan, to the point where Bill Clinton was able to steal the "Reagan Democrats" back. Polls in 1992 found that just 24% of Americans thought the country was better off because of Reagan, and his popularity sank below Jimmy Carter's to 46%. His image has since been restored, but "the conservatives who lionize Reagan today are worshiping a flattering caricature," he writes.