Americans Fault Bush and Wall Street for Economy, Not Obama

Despite the eagerness among conservative bloggers and media pundits to makeĀ  Pres. Obama responsible for the fact that the economic downturn has not righted itself in the two months since he took office, Americans in general are more inclined to blame the former administration and Wall Street malfeasance, a new WaPo-ABC News poll shows:

The percentage of Americans in the new poll who said the country is on the right track still stands at just 42 percent, but that is the highest percentage saying so in five years and marks a sharp turnabout from last fall, when as many as nine in 10 said the country was heading in the wrong direction. Fifty-seven percent now consider the nation as moving on the wrong track.

Overall perceptions about the country parallel a rapid increase in the percentage of Americans who say the economy is improving. For the first time since late 2004, the gap between the numbers saying the economy is getting better and those saying it’s getting worse is in the single digits (27 percent to 36 percent).

Two-thirds of Americans approve of the way Obama is handling the country’s top job, and six in 10 give him good marks on issue No. 1, the flagging economy.

Republicans and Democrats are more sharply divided in their perceptions of Obama’s performance than they were at the same point in Bill Clinton’s presidency — which doesn’t surprise me, given how polarized political discourse has become in the eight years since George W. Bush took office on a pledge to “unite, not divide.”

There is now a pronounced divergence between Democratic and Republican perceptions of the economy, a bigger partisan divide than the one that occurred 16 years ago after Bill Clinton took office. In early 1993, people in both parties were about equally likely to see the economy as improving, but now the number of Republicans who say it is souring is more than double that of Democrats.

A sharp rise in optimism has occurred among Democrats, who are about three times as likely to approve of the country’s course as they were just before Obama’s inauguration. Independents, too, are more optimistic, with twice as many feeling positive as in mid-January. Among Republicans, there has not been significant movement in either direction.

Some thoughts from blogtopia:


Americans are not as dumb as Larry Kudlow. … They don’t yet blame this economic crisis on the man who inherited it[.]

Jonathan Stein:

I’ve long believed that there is a fundamental disconnect between Washington’s pundit class and the American people as a whole. It’s not a fault of the pundits’ — their life and work experiences don’t put them in touch with anyone from roughly 45 of the 50 American states, and those people that they do meet tend to work in a small set of professions and industries. (Their only sin is not acknowledging the limits of their expertise and predictive abilities.) It is because of that disconnect that you can have TV commentators, journalists, and bloggers debating whether Obama’s honeymoon is over when numbers like this suggest it is not a question open for debate[.]

On the 8-point drop — from 72% before January 20 to 64% now — in Americans’ confidence that Obama’s economic policies are the right ones to fix the economy, Todd Beeton at MyDD basically says that’s a duh:

It’s … a natural function of the inevitable gap between campaign rhetoric and governing reality, all the more impressive, then, that Obama’s numbers are staying as steady as they are. The bigger picture I think is pretty clear: the president still has a mandate for change if only the congress would enable him to enact it. …

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