Obama, the Economy, and Polls

People generally approve of President Obama's job performance, and they view him favorably--Pollster.com averages show a 59.9 percent job approval and a 61.7 percent favorability ratings. These numbers have slid consistently since the excitement of his inauguration, but right direction/wrong track responses are trending in his favor: "wrong track" still wins by a margin of ~15 percentage points, but the gap has been closing since Inauguration Day.

Everyone is waiting and wondering whether Obama's economic agenda will succeed, once it's had time to kick into gear. But a new poll from the Center for Economic and Entrepreneurial Literacy shows, as others have suggested, that Americans expect the recession to last for a while: by far the largest chunk of respondents (41 percent) said they expect the economy won't recover for another one to three years. (1,002 people were polled; margin of error +/- three percent.) The respondents to this poll, at least, appear to have little faith that the stimulus and the bank plan will bring the U.S. out of a recession soon.

Evidently Americans think Obama is doing the right things, but that the recession will continue nonetheless. Or, perhaps, they're waiting to see what happens, but without much hope, and they expect they'll be disappointed with Obama in one to three years. The latter seems a bit unlikely, since the majority of Americans voted for him not long ago.

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If America is still in a recession in a year or two, either Americans will blame Obama or they won't. That may depend on how effectively Obama can claim his policies attenuated the recession without ending it, and it would be hard to know whether that claim is accurate (his claim that the stimulus will save or create three to four million jobs, it has been pointed out, is a little tough to verify). But the fact that Americans like his performance (albeit to a lessening degree) while also expecting a continued recession seems to indicate that his political fate might be dissociated from the recession. That, of course, may not hold up over time if those 41 percent are right about the nation's economic future.