Are You Better Off Than You Were Two Years Ago?

As things stand right now, the dynamics don't look good for President Obama in 2012

According to a new poll, most Americans say that the answer is no:

More than 50 percent of Americans say they are worse off now than they were two years ago when President Barack Obama took office, and two-thirds believe the country is headed in the wrong direction, a Bloomberg National Poll shows.

The survey, conducted Dec. 4-7, finds that 51 percent of respondents think their situation has deteriorated, compared with 35 percent who say they’re doing better. The balance isn’t sure. Americans have grown more downbeat about the country’s future in just the last couple of months, the poll shows. The pessimism cuts across political parties and age groups, and is common to both sexes.

The negative sentiment may cast a pall over the holiday shopping season, according to the poll. A plurality of those surveyed — 46 percent — expects to spend less this year than last; only 12 percent anticipate spending more. Holiday sales rose by just under a half percent last year after falling by almost 4 percent in 2008.

“It’s definitely different this year than it’s been,” says poll respondent Larry Deyo, a 38-year-old father of two in Marlton, New Jersey. “I can’t really do too much with spending.” He says he lost his job at a kitchen and bath design center when the company closed, and he’s now working at a Home Depot Inc. store with a “significant decrease” in pay.

Given the state of the economy, the unemployment rate, and the state of the housing market, this really shouldn’t come as a surprise, of course. We’ve seen similar results in the bellwether “right track/wrong track” poll, which has grown steadily more pessimistic since the third month of President Obama’s term:

None of this bodes well for the President as we head toward 2012. While it’s possible that the economy will start turning around before then and that people will become more optimistic about their personal financial situation, it’s extremely unlikely that things are going to improve all that much between now and then. The latest Federal Reserve forecast, for example, puts unemployment still in the high 8% range by Election Day 2012, and Ben Bernanke’s recent comments on 60 Minutes give even more cause for concern about the future. As Ed Morrissey notes, this is very bad news for Barack Obama:

Bloomberg also notes that Reagan’s post-midterm results were worse on the same question, which the press reported with glee at the time.  They saw it as a petard-hoisting moment, and they would have been right — had Reagan not laid the groundwork for an end to the stagflation of the 1970s and the beginning of the greatest economic expansion in modern American history.  By the end of 1982, most of the stagflation poison had been worked out of the system, and Reagan’s pro-growth policies had already begun to spark real growth unhindered by inflation.  In 2010, even the Fed says that we’re years away from any significant net job creation.

This time, most people seem to realize that Obama hasn’t made things any better, and in fact has made them worse, based on their own experience.  That won’t change with just a little hope & change rhetoric, and if it takes 4-5 years before things start to improve on employment under current economic policies, Obama won’t be in office to see it.

While I am not willing to make a prediction two years out, especially since it’s entirely possible that the GOP will snatch defeat from the jaws of victory by nominating a candidate who cannot possibly win, I tend to agree with Ed here. If the economy doesn’t improve significantly between now and 2012, Barack Obama is going to have a tough time getting re-elected.

Ronald Reagan famously asked this question at his one and only debate with Jimmy Carter on October 28, 1980:

The American people answered with a resounding no seven days later. When 2012 rolls around and some Republican asks the same question, what will you say?

FILED UNDER: Barack Obama, Campaign 2012, Politicians, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Maggie Mama says:

    Obama will still get 96% of the black vote …. but no doubt it will be in smaller turn-out numbers.




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  2. Herb says:

    “The American people answered with a resounding no seven days later. When 2012 rolls around and some Republican asks the same question, what will you say?”

    “Hey, where’s Reagan?”




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  3. Tano says:

    “The American people answered with a resounding no seven days later.”

    Resounding? Reagan got 50.7% of the vote.




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  4. And 489 Electoral Votes.

    Besides, it was a three-way race for the most part and Carter only got 41% of the vote.




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  5. Andyman says:

    What’s frustrating is that the more relevant question is the much less answerable “are you better off than you likely would have been had Obama not been elected?” And the best question is probably even vaguer, along the lines of asking yourself both how good you have things now and how likely they are to be in the future due to things under Obama’s control.

    People who think to themselves that their real take-home pay is 5% higher than it was at the last election, therefore the President must be doing a good job, are a lot of the reason why our politicians act so irresponsibly.




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  6. Pug says:

    Obama will still get 96% of the black vote ….

    So what’s your point?

    I’m surprised you left out the old tried-and-true “Democrat plantation” quip. That one always works well…with white people.




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  7. Pug says:

    Am I better off than I was two years ago? Yes.




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  8. Rick Almeida says:

    I’m better off, as well.




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  9. JKB says:

    Well, of course, everyone is better off than they were two years ago since we’re two years closer to bringing real change to the Presidency. So everyday things just keep getting better and better as every day we’re closer to the change of command.

    Now Obama’s problem is that more and more people are starting to feel this little cruise of the ship of state with him at the helm is an ordeal rather than a journey. So the question is would you put to sea with Obama at the helm, if you knew what you know now?

    As for asking “Are you better off than you were two years ago?”, we need to wait six months or so till the stimulus wears off. I saw report yesterday that the Green energy industry was taking hostages and telling Obama, give us more money or Unemployment gets it. Seems achieving ongoing concern absent of government support wasn’t in their business plans.




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  10. schooner says:

    Citing anything written by Ed Morrisey to bolster your point doesn’t help. The man is an egregious partisan hack that has been wrong on everything.

    Look back at his archives and you’ll find posts saying the economy in late 2007 is great, that it’s all an MSM plot to bring down Bush. He was and is truly clueless on Iraq and Afghanistan (victory is near!!! ad nauseum for 8 years).




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  11. G.A.Phillips says:

    I’m laid off with no jobs in sight, so what do you think?




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  12. anjin-san says:

    Am I better off than I was two years ago? Without a doubt.




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  13. anjin-san says:

    > I saw report yesterday that the Green energy industry was taking hostages and telling Obama, give us more money or Unemployment gets it.

    Really? And which right wing rant site was “reporting” this?




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  14. matt says:

    GA Phillips : I think bush’s economy exploded really well..




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  15. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Matt, did you notice who controlled the congress during the last two years of the Bush administration? Did you notice who was controlling congress during the good years for 6 of Clinton’s adminsitration? Notice a difference? Do you know who controls spending? Matt when you have a time bomb like the CRA ticking away and people are loaning money to people who cannot repay it and Democrats are claiming nothing is wrong. Then you have Chuck Schumer leak info about bank problems, and voila. The difference between knowing what happened and why it happened can lead you to believe the wrong people were responsible. Am I better off than I was two years ago. Not really. Obama was President elect and the nation was about to turn left.




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  16. schooner says:

    The ” CRA time bomb” is unmitigated crap.

    The vast majority of sub prime loans were issued by lenders that weren’t regulated under the CRA and CRA loans weren’t and aren’t the short term reset loans that sub prime loans were.

    If the CRA were to blame the bad loans would all be clustered around inner city neighborhoods (Detroit is the only place like this that utterly collapsed and that had far more to do with the auto industry). Instead the bulk of foreclosures have been in southwestern states and Florida with hardly any CRA loans.

    In fact CRA loans are subject to more scrutiny and defaulted at a much lower rate than all of the sub prime crap.




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  17. Linda says:

    Am I better off than I was 2 years ago? I would have to say “no”.

    My house is worth less. I still have equity, though it’s less than it was.
    My credit card interest rate has gone up, even though I have a great credit score.
    My savings interest rate has declined.
    My 401K has lost money.
    My medical insurance premiums have increased.
    Gasoline costs more.
    Electric and natural gas utilities cost more.
    Grocery prices have increased.




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  18. An Interested Party says:

    “My house is worth less. I still have equity, though it’s less than it was.
    My credit card interest rate has gone up, even though I have a great credit score.
    My savings interest rate has declined.
    My 401K has lost money.
    My medical insurance premiums have increased.
    Gasoline costs more.
    Electric and natural gas utilities cost more.
    Grocery prices have increased.”

    And to whom would you lay the blame for all of this?




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  19. Linda says:

    The credit card interest rate I can tie directly to Congress’s passing of that credit card law.

    My insurance I can point to Obamacare, as per the HR department at my employer.




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  20. anjin-san says:

    > My 401K has lost money.

    You must be a truly horrible investor. I have had a fantastic two years with my 401k, and I am not any kind of expert in the stock market. I have simply benefitted by the tremendous gains in the market during the Obama era, combined with a medium risk strategy.

    > My insurance I can point to Obamacare, as per the HR department at my employer.

    are these rate increase greater than healthcare insurance increases under Bush, when they more than doubled during his Presidency?

    > Gasoline costs more.

    Again, were the increases greater than skyrocketing gas price increases under Bush?

    > Electric and natural gas utilities cost more.
    > Grocery prices have increased.

    Same question. Are these price increases greater that what we have seen year over year so far this century? Can you point to specific Obama policies that are drivers behind price increases?




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  21. Linda says:

    “> My insurance I can point to Obamacare, as per the HR department at my employer.

    are these rate increase greater than healthcare insurance increases under Bush, when they more than doubled during his Presidency?”
    ========

    Yes, the rate increases are higher than under Bush. Under Bush, they increased an average of about $8 a month, per year. Next year, my rate will increase $45 a month and my co-pay will increase by $10 per visit, for primary care, and by $20 per visit, for specialists. When I inquired about this, my HR manager said it is because of “healthcare reform”.




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  22. john personna says:

    There is a graph of household worth here:

    http://timiacono.com/index.php/2010/12/10/z1-report-stocks-rise-real-estate-falls/

    The interesting thing is that if you ask specifically about “two years” then its clear that we are better off. The thing is, two years happens to coincide with a bottom.

    Probably most people answering didn’t understand what exactly was happening at the time, and their response is more about the three, four, year decline.




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  23. anjin-san says:

    > Yes, the rate increases are higher than under Bush. Under Bush, they increased an average of about $8 a month, per year

    Documentation?

    > When I inquired about this, my HR manager said it is because of “healthcare reform”.

    Again, documentation. This seems like a very convienient out for a HR manager, who probably lacks any real expertise in this area. I am a bit surprised that you would accept this statement at face value and not say “prove it”. This could just as easily be a case of your company sticking it to you and passing the buck.

    At any rate, my costs are going up a bit next year, but nothing out of line.




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