Monday, October 3, 2011

Economy is Obama’s Political Fate

President Obama’s fall offensive and jobs program was a survival tactic. The latest dip in the economy has focused the national political conversation laser – like on jobs and Obama’s solution.

The latest bad news of the slowing GDP and continuing unemployment broke what was an economic narrative of recovery. To the extent European troubles contribute, just adds a new anxiety that globalization is more of a threat than a boom.

August and September polls tell the story of how the economy forced the administration to a high energy, high-profile campaign, using a new stimulus package to try to shift the conversation to Obama’s plan and blame to the Republicans. The following are September polling headlines.

Unemployment re-emerges as most important problem in U.S. (Gallup, 9-15-11)
 Economy in general was in second (jobs 39%; economy 28%)
 Deficit (12%) and dissatisfaction with government (14%) ranked third and fourth
7 point gap in favor of Republicans handling the job

In U.S., 6 in 10 do not expect economy to improve soon (Gallup, 9-21-11)
 42% say economy worse than year ago
 61% say it will be worse or same year from now
8 in 10 say in recession

In U.S., slight majority now blame Obama for U.S. economy (Gallup, 9-21-11)
 53% now blame Obama; 69% still blame Bush
Only 26% approve Obama’s performance on economy

Few see job proposals having much effect (Pew, 9-7-11)
 Jobs over deficit as worry (43% to 22%)
 Only 37% believe more spending on infrastructure helps jobs a lot; cutting business taxes only 31%; reduce deficit 31%; cut income taxes 24%

This malaise even affects the heartland of the Democratic Party – California. Ninety-one percent of voters say the economy is in “bad shape” and 72 percent believe it will be “worse” or “same” next year. Obama’s approval rating dropped to the mid-40 percent range in California in September.

Obama suffers not only from the facts of the economy, but the apparent failure of his previous remedies and his lackluster performance in the debt ceiling crisis.

The reconfiguration of the Obama re-election campaign into a fighting machine for jobs was essential, but faces a mighty challenge with only one year left. Obama has finally inherited from a majority of voters blame for the economy and from most of the public skepticism that Washington has a solution.

Also see Sacramento Bee article: 50% of California voters report personal economic situation decline

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