It is not clear what is causing the decline, but it doesn’t seem to be the actual economy. There are increasing signs that the recovery is accelerating. Recent reports on jobs and housing have been unexpectedly strong. And all the while, the stock market has been bullish…
One theory holds that the fight over the automatic budget cuts contained in sequestration hurt Mr. Obama. Some political observers contend that the Obama administration overplayed its hand in the run-up to March 1, when the cuts began to go into effect.
Of course, the dip in Mr. Obama’s approval ratings on the economy might simply be a reflection of an overall dip in Mr. Obama’s popularity after a postelection bounce. The president’s job approval ratings improved after he won re-election, but that postelection honeymoon appears to be ending (a bounce is, by definition, ephemeral). According to the RealClearPolitics average, Mr. Obama’s net job approval is just 1 percentage point (48 percent approve and 47 percent disapprove). That’s down from a high in mid-December of plus 12 percentage points (54 percent approved and 42 percent disapproved).
Just as his overall job approval appears to be falling back to where it hovered for most of 2012, public approval of Mr. Obama’s economic stewardship may simply be regressing toward the mean.