On Friday, pollster Scott Rasmussen penned a column explaining why -- among other things -- "declining views of the economy" could severely jeopardize President Obama’s chances of winning re-election in November.
Consumer confidence fell to the lowest levels of 2012 this past week. Most Americans believe that both the economy and their own personal finances are getting worse. Just 25 percent believe the economy is getting better, and only 22 percent say the same about their personal finances.
Still, the lows of 2012 aren't nearly as bad as they were in the previous three years. But the trend is discouraging. It looks like yet another year starting with improved outlooks for the economy that fade by summer, and it's clearly taking a toll on the American people.
In the summer of 2009, 58 percent thought the economy would be stronger within five years. By the summer of 2010, only 50 percent had such long-term optimism. By last summer, just 46 percent were that upbeat. And now only 40 percent think the economy will be stronger in five years.
That's a pretty depressing trend.
Indeed. In other words, over the last three years Americans have become increasingly less optimistic about their financial and economic well-being. Furthermore, as Rasmussen notes, “regardless of what economist say, most Americans believe we are in a recession and have been for more than four years.” I wonder why. In fact, things are so bad -- he continued -- a plurality of voters don’t believe the economy will ever recover.
Now, a plurality believes it will get worse over the next year, and many Americans are wondering if our nation will ever make it back. Only 14 percent now believe today's children will be better off than their parents. That's an all-time low.
Incidentally, many have argued that the electoral landscape in 2012 is analogous to when President George W. Bush ran for re-election in 2004, and therefore President Obama – despite his sinking favorability ratings -- is in good shape. Rasmussen, however, isn’t necessarily buying this argument.
Some analysts have looked at the landscape and said it's just like the last time we had a president running for re-election. Like Obama today, George W. Bush in 2004 was a polarizing president leading the government of a divided nation. Bush's job approval ratings at this point in 2004 were pretty similar to where Obama's numbers are today.
However, one huge difference between 2004 and 2012 is that President Bush had trends moving in his direction. The big issue that year was the war on terror. In the summer of 2004, just 44 percent thought the United States and its allies were winning that war. In the five weeks running up to the election, however, confidence that our side was winning ranged from 49 percent to 52 percent.
The fact that U.S. economic growth has now slowed to an alarming rate further suggests President Obama does not have trends moving in his direction. Exit question: Does the stagnant economy spell disaster for President Obama, or do you think he’ll pull off another historic victory in November?