Obama 2012: It Could Be Worse!

posted at 2:45 pm on September 17, 2011 by Karl

Pres. Obama’s decline continues in the new CBS News/New York Times poll, which Allahpundit aptly terms brutal, especially in light of the poll’s historical pro-Obama house effect. Fifty percent now disapprove of his job performance (54% of Independents disapprove). Moreover, the president is now personally underwater; just 39% of Americans have a favorable opinion of Obama, while 42% view him unfavorably. I am unsure that means much, but it is not a plus.

However, true to form, Allahpundit cannot resist turning Eeyorepundit when confronted with news which facially favors the right. He focuses in on the finding that 53% now say the condition of the national economy is beyond any president’s control, up from a mere 26% in the summer of 2008 and 45% last summer. AP suggests it confirms some of his earlier pessimism about how much the economy may influence the 2012 election:

I think it could go two ways if he doesn’t turn things around by next year. One: The public will continue to cut him lots of slack well into 2012, but as the election approaches and they realize that this will be their last chance until 2016 to change course, they’ll bail and we’ll see a rapid snowball effect among those blaming him for not fixing the economy. Or two: The public will decide that the current recession is so uniquely horrible, unlike anything since the Great Depression, that it’s unfair to expect any president to make major strides in just one term, which will have the ironic effect of partly neutralizing the economy as an electoral issue. That’s completely counterintuitive given its singular importance right now (fully 93 percent in this poll say the economy is extremely or very important to them, an all-time high), but paradoxically the worse things get, the easier it is for Obama to frame slow growth and chronically high unemployment as some sort of mega-quake or force majeure for which no one could reasonably be expected to have been prepared.

Allahpundit is not alone in casting back to the Great Depression as a possible model for the 2012 election. On the other side of the spectrum, Ezra Klein is terrified that Obama will turn out to be Hoover instead of FDR — that if Obama loses, the economy will recover under a GOP-led government and Republicans will dominate the political landscape for decades to come. Both can rest a bit easier after considering the weaknesses of the theory.

First, although the economy is mired in malaise — and may remain so for a while — America is manifestly not in a Great Depression. More significantly here, America is not in the Great Depression. The New Deal Coalition was not only remarkably robust, but also remarkably diverse (and not in the sense of identity politics). Indeed, both parties were more ideologically diverse for most of the 20th century than they are today. Given how close the 2000 and 2004 elections were — and how 2008 ultimately did not reflect public support for a New New Deal — the emergence of a coalition that can dominate Congress and the presidency for decades seems unlikely. Indeed, it seems even less likely if one assumes that the federal government will continue to mostly fail at decisively addressing the economy and the public debt.

Second, the CBS/NYT poll findings have to be read as a whole. If Americans increasingly say the president has little control over the economy (a finding which would have long-term benefits for the right, incidentally), why are the same Americans increasingly disapproving of his job performance? Granted, an increasing number disapproves of Obama’s handling of most issues, but the economy is the overwhelming issue driving all of these results.

Without the poll’s crosstabs, I would hypothesize that the rising number of people saying (as opposed to believing) the president cannot do much about the economy comes mostly from the ranks of Obama 2008 voters. After all, those in the establishment media reliably put out the narrative that Obama’s failure is a failure of the American system of government. “It Could Be Worse!” is also the subtext of the entire defense of the Obama’s failures, both from within and without the administration. Those now saying Obama has little control over the economy likely remain predisposed to him; the issue is whether people adopting this view will be motivated to turn out for Obama in November 2012. That issue is why Obama 2012 must also run on “It Could Be Worse!” with the GOP nominee. Political observers almost universally acknowledge that both versions of “It Could Be Worse!” comprise the unofficial slogan of Obama 2012, so we should consider the increase in “it’s not Obama’s fault” to be baked into the cake.

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First.

Electrongod on September 17, 2011 at 3:39 PM

It can only be worse if he gets reelected…

CANNOT!!

Khun Joe on September 17, 2011 at 3:39 PM

both versions of “It Could Be Worse!” comprise the unofficial slogan of Obama 2012, so we should consider the increase in “it’s not Obama’s fault” to be baked into the cake.

The charlatans should/would be punished, if the right were not such dummies.

Schadenfreude on September 17, 2011 at 3:42 PM

both versions of “It Could Be Worse!” comprise the unofficial slogan of Obama 2012, so we should consider the increase in “it’s not Obama’s fault” to be baked into the cake.

Sorry Karl, forgot the quotes.

Schadenfreude on September 17, 2011 at 3:42 PM

Neither Landon nor Wilkie seriously contested the essential goals of the New Deal, and Landon was a notoriously lackluster campaigner, as opposed to glamorous, charismatic FDR. As someone once said, we need a choice, not an echo. Obama is wrong enough on enough issues that it should be possible to present a clear alternative, energetically, without sounding like an extremist.

Seth Halpern on September 17, 2011 at 3:47 PM

“It Could Be Worse!”

…and It Could Be a WHOLE LOT BETTER!

jbh45 on September 17, 2011 at 3:48 PM

Obama is desperate. He needs a “killer app” to happen on his watch…to take credit for it. That’s why he reformed the Patent process.
Other presidents had the personal computer age..the internet…cell phones and satellite dishes..
These presidents didn’t beg for it..it just happened.
Obama is begging for anything…and has even given out Obama dollars to spur growth…in specific technologies..only to fail.
Lesson for Obama…get out of the way and get your hands out of our business.
Something he cannot do.

Electrongod on September 17, 2011 at 3:50 PM

If it hadn’t been for Lord Obama’s leadership, we would have faced an economic Armageddon equivalent to an asteroid the size of Rhode Island hitting your home town. Every five minutes.

SlaveDog on September 17, 2011 at 3:52 PM

While Presidents may not have the power to repair an ailing economy, they certainly have the power to make it worse. Obama is demonstrating that with his statist policies, increasing regulations, and other growth of government activities.

The Republican reply to the “It could be worse!” campaign approach should be a resounding, “You bet! The Democrats could still be in control of both houses of the legislature and have a filibuster-proof Senate. Things could be a whole lot worse”

AZfederalist on September 17, 2011 at 3:54 PM

Indeed, both parties were more ideologically diverse for most of the 20th century than they are today.

Save for the entry of the Progressives into both parties, the spending policies of the Progressives, and then the Cold War friendliness between the two parties… Call that the era between, say, 1928 and 1980.

Plus some overlap of Progressives with TR and Wilson before that, call it another 10 years of Progressivism there.

So 62 years of Progressivism with ‘diversity’ of some sort being wedged in at the beginning and a bit at the end, which seems so important to us… but that huges span that didn’t see any rollback of government from Hoover to Carter (and, really, none under Reagan, Bush, welfare reform under Clinton and then W. Bush adding in DHS, DNI and other fun things).

In fact ‘diversity’ was actively shunned by both parties for decades and only a bit of ice-breaking starting with Goldwater that really wouldn’t get going until Reagan, but then gets stoppered for the New World Order types… hmmmm… nope, not seeing the ‘diversity’.

Civil Rights, maybe?

Gun control, save the Republicans who signed up for that with the various gun control laws… no, not getting that loving feeling there as it took two sides to tango that…

If you want diversity of opinion rising its head, look to the last couple of years. The Cold War mentality is finally leaching out of politics and a lot of the 20th century wash-up now has to be dealt with. You are going to get a lot of ‘diversity’ very soon, and it won’t be pretty… but it will be better than the 20th century, that’s for sure.

ajacksonian on September 17, 2011 at 3:55 PM

“It Could Be Worse!” is also the subtext of the entire defense of the Obama’s failures, both from within and without the administration.

Dude. Truckloads of funny points to the first blogger that twists this “It could be worse” subtext into the “If you think I’m ugly (obama), you should see my sister (republican nominee)”. That would get some play.

ted c on September 17, 2011 at 4:13 PM

Obama 2012: It’s Going to Get Worse!

BuckeyeSam on September 17, 2011 at 4:20 PM

I’m starting to get a feeling that all of these “horrible” polls — particularly those from CBS/New York Times — are setting the stage for a remarkable “comeback” as the election nears. If the Obamamedia can make it really, really horrible (looking) for the prez now, they’ve got their “comeback kid” narrative later as the election gets much closer.

Rational Thought on September 17, 2011 at 4:41 PM

This is the type of tomfoolery people with too much time on their hands get into.
Dude is GONE in 12 and let’s not nuance the fact.

I like you Karl, keep up the good work. I’ll forgive you for this one.

FireBlogger on September 17, 2011 at 4:58 PM

This probably means the DNC won’t be reusing a slogan like “We can do better!”

apostic on September 17, 2011 at 5:00 PM

The “love me, pass my bill” bill is another attempt to replace the 70% of the economy that is consumer spending…..

…….cause baby consumers are hunkered down until 1-20-13.

……get ready for even MORE demonizing of binessus over holding $2 trillion in cash and not spending it.

Lord help us.

PappyD61 on September 17, 2011 at 5:03 PM

Polls have always been used to influence public opinion, not report it. I don’t believe polls… There’s a new one with a new angle every few days.

Fallon on September 17, 2011 at 5:23 PM

Obamas new slogans should be “It could be worse” book-ended with “Did I do thaaaaaat?”.

BDavis on September 17, 2011 at 5:29 PM

Could have fooled me to say that the US is not in a Depression. The true unemployment rate is likely at least 15%. The difference between the Great Depression now is Food Stamps replaces the Soup Kitchen. And there was no 99 (more if Barry can swing it) unemployment benefit cheques.

bayview on September 17, 2011 at 5:53 PM

Electrongod on September 17, 2011 at 3:39 PM

-
About 14th!
-

RalphyBoy on September 17, 2011 at 6:22 PM

Could have fooled me to say that the US is not in a Depression. The true unemployment rate is likely at least 15%. The difference between the Great Depression now is Food Stamps replaces the Soup Kitchen. And there was no 99 (more if Barry can swing it) unemployment benefit cheques.

bayview on September 17, 2011 at 5:53 PM

Youngstown state did an actual accounting and discovered its 29%

Shadowstats has it near 25% and teh official U6 number is approx. 17.

We have been in a depression for 3 years. Remember the gdp in the depression did not flatline and stay there, nor are our current numbers accurate. The are politically manipulated. I think Zero imported some guys from the CRU.

dogsoldier on September 17, 2011 at 6:49 PM

ajacksonian on September 17, 2011 at 3:55 PM

I think you may think you’re disagreeing with my pont, when you’re actually making it. My point was that you had many more relatively conservative Democrats and many more relatively liberal Republicans during the period. I actually deleted a sentence from my 1st draft specifically noting that today’s politics are more polarized at the elite/party base level and increasingly well-sorted even among the less political. Progressivism — and thus the Democratic Party — no longer has the dominance it did during that period. However, it is fair to say that conservatism or classic liberalism, has yet to build that sort of dominance either… which is both why Klein is feaking out prematurely, and why Allahpundit may be overestimating voters’ patience with economic malaise.

Karl on September 17, 2011 at 6:50 PM

Could have fooled me to say that the US is not in a Depression. The true unemployment rate is likely at least 15%. The difference between the Great Depression now is Food Stamps replaces the Soup Kitchen. And there was no 99 (more if Barry can swing it) unemployment benefit cheques.

bayview on September 17, 2011 at 5:53 PM

“Depression” implies a low place between two higher ones…I think we’re permanently at sea level now.

Dr. ZhivBlago on September 17, 2011 at 9:38 PM

The bad news is recovery may not even be possible in the next Presidential term. The housing market has a long way to go to catch up with excess inventory (and more is in the pipeline in foreclosures delayed or deferred by Obama actions and litigation). Europe’s banks have to eat some major losses and no one knows how that will shake out, much less Greece, Spain, Portugal, and Italy all needing help out of their deep deficit holes.

Our exports have been strong in emerging markets, but with our domestic demand subdued the countries who would buy our technology don’t have the money. Our high unemployment makes increasing domestic demand problematical.

Adjoran on September 18, 2011 at 4:41 AM

If it’s beyond the president’s control to effect the economy shouldn’t we stop spending money in the attempt?

Fred 2 on September 18, 2011 at 7:20 AM

“It’s not Obama’s fault” is far more likely to be a replay of an old Progressive meme. That is, free market economies are inherently unstable and not to be relied upon, and that it’s government’s job to act counter-cyclically with both monetary and fiscal policy. Under another guise, it’s called “Keynesianism”!
I can hear the “new” campaign theme ringing as we speak. “Obama tried his best with an impossible situation, dumped in his lap by his predecessor, and cannot be held accountable for a predestined failure.”
The problem here, of course, is that even Keynes understood the problem better than his acolytes when he described the phenomenon known as “The liquidity trap”. Briefly, Keynes described the situation of government having dumped vast amounts of money into the system while simultaneously doing everything imaginable to discourage its use in either consumption or investment. He recognized that government had the ability to either hinder or facilitate activity and that the mere presence of liquidity was only a part of the story.
So let the Progressives go to market with “It’s not Obama’s fault” because it only highlights their own feckless impotence. And it’s been a long time since impotence provided much of a strategy for success.

Lew on September 18, 2011 at 12:32 PM

“America is manifestly not in a Great Depression.” Since the term “Great Depression” has already been trade marked and cannot be reused, we are not there because, well, this is the 2010s not the 1930s. But sorry Karl, mathematically the U.S. actually is in a depression. The most common technical definition of one is a decline of more than 10% in GDP and a downturn that lasts longer than 2 years. Our real economy is well into its third year of depression.

So how do we conclude that the GDP has declined by more than 10%? Easy. The reason is that the mathematics behind the GDP calculation – GDP = C+G+I(or S)+(trade balance). The kicker is G. The Imperial Federal Government is pushing massive amounts of deficit spending stimulus, or approximately $1.8 trillion, or 12% of GDP, to mask the actual GDP decline. Remove this enormous amount of deficit spending and “Voila!” the U.S. economy immediately enters a “depression” as the GDP amount falls by 12%.

Or are you actually an Obama supporter in disguise and are an opponent of a balanced budget amendment? Actually, it’s time everyone got real. The simple calculation shows why any President, under current economic conditions, finds himself politically incapable of pushing for “smaller government.” Does either Romney or Perry want to be labeled the next Hoover? And make no mistake the MSM will go rabid denouncing the Republican administration; as will the U.S. electorate! Even though sustained USG deficits of this amount are financially unsustainable. Rock, meet hard place!

We have been in an economic depression for three years. There are a whole, heapin’ helpin’ of mathematical truths like this one that are very bitter pills. But until someone – in the media, in academy, in the think tanks, or a politician/political party – finds the stomach to slap the U.S. voter upside teh head, the consequences of continued blindness to reality certainly will. The cascade of pension bankruptcies, insurance company bankruptcies, banking/financial bankruptcies, the FDIC fund exhausted, quasi-governmental industries disrupted, including health care, auto manufacturing, housing, and education, and tax revenues spiral downward. Civil disorder to follow? Who knows.

But from what I can see, the U.S. voter has not reached a view, much less an understanding, of the bottom to which they are headed. And the patient is clearly not willing to accept the bitter medicine for long term recovery. As a consequence, my money is on Obama’s reelection in 2012… and then the deluge.

boqueronman on September 19, 2011 at 1:19 PM