The Return Of Economic Pessimism
Americans are getting pessimistic about the state of the economy again.
Americans appear to be becoming more pessimistic about the state of the economy, and that could spell trouble for President Obama:
Economic pessimism is on the rise as Americans predict that the unemployment rate will start ticking back upward and expect a deterioration in their household finances over the next year, according to a new survey Friday.
Just 22 percent of Americans said that the economy has improved in the past month, down from the 28 percent who said so in February, according to an Associated Press-GfK poll.
Meanwhile, 35 percent predict that the unemployment rate, which has been slowly dropping, will start going back up, up from 30 percent who believed that in February.
Fewer than one in three Americans believe their household’s economic condition will improve in the next year, down from 37 percent just three months ago, while 18 percent believe their finances will deteriorate, up from 11 percent in February.
This increased economic pessimism extends to Democrats as well — the share of Democrats who called the economy “good” dropped from 48 percent in February to 31 percent now.
The public is split over whether the president is handling the economy well and leans toward disapproval — 52 percent disapprove of Obama’s handling of the economy, while 46 percent approve.
It’s worth noting that the President’s overall approval rating in the poll is at 53%, which is actually higher than the current poll average. The disapproval rate on the economy, however, is consistent with where the current average stands:
It seems rather obvious these disapproval ratings on the economy would increase if the public perception that the economy is not recovering continues to take hold, and this could pose a problem for the President over the next six months. We’ve seen in poll after poll that the economy and jobs are far and away the top issues on voters minds this year, as they have been for the past three years or more, and an incumbent President running for re-election in the midst of a weak economy is likely to find himself in trouble no matter how hard he pushes a negative campaign against his opponent.
At this point, of course, there really isn’t much of anything that the President can do either about the economic numbers or public perception as it’s influenced by those numbers. Not only is it unlikely that much of anything could make it through Congress before the Election, but even if it did it’s not at all clear that such action would have enough of an immediate impact on the economy to really make a difference. In some sense, then the President is going to have to hope that economic picture improves over the next six months and that we don’t get a repeat of the spring/summer slowdown that we’ve seen for each of the past two years. If that happens, then we’re likely to make it to Labor Day, the traditional start of the General Election campaign, with a stagnant economic and people still mired in unemployment that remains stubbornly high. And that would not be a good playing field for any incumbent no matter how likeable he happens to be.