The question for the economic fight in the presidential election may not be whether voters buy Mitt Romney’s tax plan or Barack Obama’s class warfare. It may be whether they’re buying anything at all. After six straight months of improvements in consumer confidence, Gallup’s latest survey shows a drop for the second month in a row — and well below a healthy indicator for economic expansion (via Instapundit):
Gallup’s Economic Confidence Index averaged -26 in July, a decline from -22 in June, and close to the 2012 low of -27 measured in January. Economic confidence improved during the first five months of the year, but July marks the second monthly decline in a row. Still, the index remains significantly higher than the -42 from July of a year ago.
Gallup’s Economic Confidence Index consists of two measures — one assessing current U.S. economic conditions and the other assessing the nation’s economic outlook. Americans were more pessimistic about both current conditions and the economic outlook during July. Fourteen percent of Americans said the economy is excellent or good, while 42% considered it poor, resulting in a -28 current conditions rating. The -23 economic outlook rating reflects a five-percentage-point decline from June, with 36% of Americans saying the economy is getting better and 59% saying it is getting worse. This is the lowest economic outlook rating of 2012.
Both measures declined over the last two months, with the economic outlook dropping more sharply. That’s not exactly a ringing endorsement for hope. When broken out by political affiliation, the numbers show that even Democrats aren’t particularly optimistic, except in relation to everyone else.
Democrats are the only group to have a positive number in the confidence index, unchanged from last month at +7. Confidence dropped among Republicans and independents; the former dropped five points to hit -54, and the latter dropped six points to reach -30. Both groups fall below the overall number, and the gap between independents and Democrats has to worry Team Obama.
On the other hand, the latest results from Rasmussen may allay those fears:
The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Monday shows President Obama attracting 47% of the vote, while Mitt Romney earns support from 45%. Four percent (4%) prefer some other candidate, and four percent (4%) are undecided.
This is only the second time in more than two months of daily tracking that Obama has reached the 47% level of support. Prior to today, he had led Romney on only one of the preceding 34 days. Romney led by four on Friday morning just before the jobs report. See tracking history. As with all bounces, it remains to be seen whether this reflects a lasting change in the race or is merely statistical noise.
Scott Johnson wonders whether Obama got a bump from the jobs report:
Rasmussen links Obama’s bounce to Friday’s jobs report, which I thought was a downer. I wonder if the negative advertising that Obama is running in swing states is paying dividends compounded by Romney’s inability to match it until after he is formally named the GOP nominee. In any event, for reasons we have discussed here previously, we think Rasmussen runs the best public poll and it is worth following if you want to understand the dynamics of the race.
The 163K number was a sharp improvement over the previous three months, and that may have given Obama a brief bump in polling. It hasn’t done anything for consumer confidence, although that survey took place before the jobs number got released. The lack of jobs and wage growth will probably mean more in confidence than the momentary bump from last Friday’s report, but we’ll see when we have more data in other consumer-confidence polls.