What are Americans interested in? According to a Gallup poll released on June 14, it's the economy, in a variety of forms.
The poll found that "68 percent of Americans mention some aspect of the economy when asked about the most important problem facing the country today, with the economy in general (31 percent) and unemployment (25 percent) most often mentioned as specific concerns." (Poll of 1,004 adults, conducted June 7-10, with a sampling error of plus-or-minus 4 points.)
In addition, "the economy and unemployment have ranked first and second on the most important problem list each month since December 2009," according to Gallup. However, Americans' concern about government and government's performance does not end with the economy.
"After those two issues, Americans' next-biggest concerns are dissatisfaction with government, mentioned by 12 percent, and the federal budget deficit, mentioned by 11 percent," noted Gallup.
Given Americans' concern with the economy and unemployment, it would make sense that we should grade the current administration on its performance in these areas so far.
But President Barack Obama appears to have no interest in looking back to review his record. Instead, he began campaigning with the tagline "Forward" this spring.
Based on the administration's reluctance to dwell on its record, here's my prediction: During the next few months, the administration will highlight everything -- but the economy. At least the current state of the economy, and the administration's performance so far. Think of it as a strategy of distraction. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's campaign should react to it as such, and maintain that it's still the economy. Because it is.
The administration might try to change the focus to social issues, health care, education, welfare, class warfare, what we need to do to restart the economy, who else the government should be helping in this economy. Its leaders will attempt to focus on anything but the current state of affairs based on Obama's performance in the areas that Americans most care about.
Why will they focus on other items? Because of their dismal performance so far.
When Obama took office, the unemployment rate was 7.8 percent. It is now 8.4 percent. For African-Americans, who gave Obama 95 percent of their vote in 2008, the unemployment rate has risen from 12.7 percent in January 2009 to 14.7 percent in June, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.