Normally, Americans are an optimistic people, but not so much lately, as Gallup reports from its latest survey. The mood has turned decidedly sour, especially lately, as American satisfaction hits its lowest level since Barack Obama took office — and one of the lowest ratings in the 32-year history of the series:
Americans’ satisfaction with the way things are going in the United States has fallen back to 11%, the lowest level since December 2008 and just four percentage points above the all-time low recorded in October 2008.
The Aug. 11-14 Gallup poll finds satisfaction down five points from July (16%) and nine points since June (20%). The dip is likely a response to the recent negotiations to raise the federal debt ceiling and continued concern about the national economy amid a volatile stock market. The recent downing of a U.S. military helicopter in Afghanistan resulting in the deaths of 30 U.S. servicemen could also be contributing to Americans’ glum mood.
Gallup began measuring Americans’ satisfaction with national conditions in 1979. Since then, satisfaction has been lower than the current 11% in only a few measurements in the final months of 2008. The all-time low of 7% came in an Oct. 10-12, 2008, poll, conducted shortly after stock values plummeted following Congress’ passage of the TARP legislation in response to the September 2008 financial crisis.
When Obama took office, the rating hit a peak of 36% — a rather weak peak in this series — as the nation looked forward to change after the economic collapse in 2008. The satisfaction level has slid downward since, but this latest result is a rather steep drop from two months ago.
The cause seems pretty obvious when Gallup breaks out the specific concerns. The top issues are the economy (31%), jobs (29%), the federal deficit and/or national debt (17%), and a general dissatisfaction with government. The top three issues are a direct result of Obama’s economic and budgetary plans, and that means that 77% of those who are concerned about the national condition are going to look at Obama as the cause first. It’s not much wonder that Obama only scored a 26/71 approval on economics under these conditions from Gallup yesterday.
Further corroboration of this problem comes from Gallup’s party breakdown of the numbers. Only 19% of Democrats are satisfied with the national condition, but that’s more than double the level for Republicans (9%) and independents (8%). Deeply unhappy voters are not going to back a second term for the man in charge, not unless they get happy in a hurry. From what we’re seeing of the economy this week and this summer, they’re more likely to get even more unhappy instead.
Let’s not get too glum, however. A reader sent me this video comparing Barack Obama’s litany of excuses for the failure of Obamanomics with a classic movie scene from The Blues Brothers. If you’re singing the blues, maybe this will bring you a little cheer: