Reality Check


by Patrick Appel

Mark Blumenthal crunches the numbers and finds that Obama sinks or swims with the economy's fortunes:

The apparent relationship between economic news and the president's approval rating is not surprising. "Political science has consistently found that perceptions of the economy are powerful influences on presidential approval," said my colleague, University of Wisconsin professor Charles Franklin. "Surprisingly, people's own job situation is less important than how they view the economy as a whole. Perceptions of the economy are driven by real movement in objective indicators, but it is perceptions that have direct impact on the president's approval rating."

The pattern in Obama's job rating also reflects what pollster Mark Mellman describes as "two tendencies fighting each other." We have a new, personally-popular president facing an economic reality that, barring a quick economic rebound, will drag his numbers down further over the next few months. "Eventually," said Mellman, "gravity will out."

In the long run -- meaning 2010 and beyond -- where Obama's approval ratings go will depend largely on the direction of the economy.