Yes, this is a hobbyhorse of mine. Let’s ride it! The last time we checked in on this subject, back in February, CNN had stumbled upon a new milestone — for the first time, a majority of the public didn’t blame Bush for America’s current economic doldrums. It took fully five years for the change to occur, but change had come: 44 percent blamed Bush and the GOP, 33 percent blamed Obama and the Democrats, and 14 percent blamed both parties equally. Where do things stand three months later? Hmmmm:
Not only is this the first time the “inherited” number has dropped below 50 percent in an NBC/WSJ poll, it’s the first time that the number who think Obama’s to blame is within single digits of the “inherited” crowd. The hallmark of polling on this issue in the past has been that the numbers don’t change much (see the February post up top for more on that), but they’re changing now — to the point where we may yet see the day when a majority of the public concludes that The One really does own this economy. Big question, though: Could it be that views of the economy have improved, to the point where some of the people who are “blaming” O for the current state of things are actually crediting him for the improvement? We’re assuming that the margin of blame between Bush and Obama is shrinking because independents are increasingly exasperated with O for not engineering a more robust recovery. But maybe we’ve got it wrong. Maybe it’s O-bots, convinced that the economy’s finally about to take off, who are leaping into the “Obama’s responsible” column. Could that be what’s happening here?
Not really, no:
The current 26/26 split is middling; Obama’s experienced periods of far more optimism about the economy in the recent past. His job approval rating on the economy is also middling by his standards at 42/54. Here’s the only wrinkle:
You’ve got almost 60 percent there who say that the economy’s improved under Obama, but given that he took office in the depths of the Great Recession, that doesn’t tell us much. What’s really interesting is that you’ve got barely four in 10 willing to credit him at all for the tepid recovery — and my strong hunch is that the 41 percent in his corner here aren’t overlapping much with the 39 percent in the first question who say Obama’s policies are driving the current economic conditions. I think they’re mostly in the “inherited,” i.e. blame Bush, category, just as righties are in the “Obama’s responsible” one. And increasingly, it seems, some centrist faction is moving towards the right’s position. Bad news for O as we creep closer to November and good news for Jeb Bush as Dubya’s legacy continues to fade.
Totally unrelated to the above, but this made me laugh and should be posted somewhere on the site today. One evening palate-cleanser, coming up.