Regardless of whom the public blamed for the 2011 crisis, President Obama’s net approval rating did drop, by up to -4.3pt, per the Real Clear Politics average. True, that was not a catastrophic fall, but consumer confidence tends to be a leading economic indicator; it moves before the rest of the economy does.
Sure enough, Obama’s net approval rating didn’t bottom out until the end of August 2011 – a month after he, House Speaker John Boehner, and congressional leaders had reached a deal. Obama’s net approval stayed at about -10pt through early October, and was still lower at 1 November than it had been on 1 August. And it stayed depressed even though consumer confidence recovered slightly during the same period.
In fact, the political arguments over the shutdown and debt ceiling fight may not matter that much at all. As University of North Carolina political scientist Jim Stimson found (via Mark Blumenthal of the Huffington Post), it’s consumer sentiment that tends to have the greatest impact on approval ratings and hence elections.