Faith in Obama's Economic Policies at a New Low

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Six out of ten Americans lack confidence in the president to make the right decisions for the country, according to a new poll from the Washington Post. Public distrust is even higher toward Democrats (68%) and Republicans (72%). But the scariest statistic for incumbent Dems -- and the most hopeful for Republicans -- is that likely midterm voters prefer the GOP by 15 points: 56 percent to 41 percent.

On the economy, the picture is no less bleak for the White House. Public faith in the president's ability to steer the economy has steadily fallen for the last 16 months (see above chart). Approval, at 43%, has never been lower. Disapproval, at 54%, has never been higher, despite the fact that the U.S. economy has been growing now for almost a full year.

The Washington Post teases out a few more results from the survey with more specific implications for electeds:


Two takeaways. First, the word deficit creates a 19-point gap between the More Spending crowd and the Stop Spending crowd. Deficit fears are truly embedded in the national zeitgeist -- as deeply as terrorism, according to one poll. Second, despite the country's being on Code Red Ink alert, support for unemployment benefits extension is still high. If Democrats want to snatch back public trust on the economy, it might be unwise to abandon jobless benefits without putting up a more public fight.

Finally, this analysis requires a big asterisk. Democrats are almost certainly doomed to fall by the dozens in the House this November. It's not the candidates, it's the conditions: plus-nine percent unemployment; slow business investment; continuing weakness in the housing sector. (As the graphs below demonstrate, income growth is a particularly accurate indicator of losses.)

History will debate and determine whether the Obama/Bernanke regime wisely handled the recession. In the nearer term, the voters will make that judgment themselves, and there isn't much evidence from July 2010 to suggest that the recovery, or the Democrats' fortunes, are ready to pick up any time soon.