Here’s your daily reminder that there are few political sins that can’t be absolved, at least temporarily, by an improving economy and low, low, low gas prices.
Maybe the “free community college” plan he touted during the SOTU helped too. It combines two things Americans love, education reform and “free” stuff. How many casual voters who tuned in to hear him explain his latest no-strings-attached scheme for new spending read the fine print and discovered that middle-class kids’ college funds will be squeezed to pay for the new program? In fact, according to Josh Earnest, one of the glorious implications of Obama’s plan is that it’ll redirect some high-school grads who might otherwise have been able to afford a four-year university towards starting with two years of “free” community college instead. You know, like all the kids with parents who belong to Washington’s ruling class do.
One other possibility: Maybe this is a small reaction to the GOP’s takeover of the Senate. On certain hot-button issues, a major change in control of the federal government inevitably sparks a backlash among voters who fear it’ll be a change for the worse. For instance, check out the second graph here from Gallup’s abortion polling and note the spike in pro-life sentiment in 2009. America inaugurated a new, very pro-choice president that year; some voters who are fencesitters on the issue probably feared that Obama would try to move the country too far to the left on abortion, so they compensated by moving right. You could be seeing something similar with the midterms. Now that there’s been a big media splash this month about Republicans dominating Congress, some centrists may be fearing overreach and responding with a little bump of new support for Obama as a check on McConnell and Boehner. That’s … insane given that O routinely steamrolls Congress nowadays on big-ticket issues, but never underestimate the ignorance of low-information voters, my friends.
In lieu of an exit question, here’s my own theory in picture form of why Americans are suddenly more optimistic about the country and its leadership. How bad can things be if we’re still capable of great works like this?