The Obama administration has achieved a lot. Most important, of course, comprehensive healthcare reform. But the US also has the beginnings of economic recovery, thanks in part to the stimulus and to the government's other interventions. Far-reaching reform of financial regulation, despite the latest delay, is on the way. It is an impressive record--but voters on the whole are unimpressed. This disjunction is the subject of my new column in the FT.

The polls make dismal reading for Democrats. The president's approval rating stands below 50 per cent. Approval of his party in Congress is at record lows. One polling analyst observes: "It took Republicans six or eight years to trash their party's brand; it took Democrats less than 18 months to trash theirs."

Is this slump a big deal or a passing setback? What, if anything, should the White House do? Perhaps it is just a matter of staying calm, Mr Obama's speciality. Maybe a recovering economy will fix the problem, if not by November's mid-term elections, at least in time for the presidential election in 2012.

Read on.