The White House is all about social issues these days, and a new AP-GfK poll explains why: Americans think the economy is getting worse. As recently as February, 20 percent of Americans thought the economy was in “good” shape; currently only 10 percent share that opinion. Two thirds think the economy is in “poor” shape, and only one in three expects their family’s situation to improve in the coming year.
Much of what is wrong with the economy is not President Obama’s fault; the incompetence and incoherence of EU policy making, the aging of China’s economic model and India’s faltering management have nothing to do with anything the White House controls. The public does, to some extent, cut the President a break; while 52 percent disapprove of his handling of the economy, a substantial minority (46 percent) thinks he’s handling things pretty well. Their patience, however, is not inexhaustible; President Obama’s economic ratings have fallen over the last three months.
Growing public pessimism about the country’s economic prospects in the spring of a presidential election year is extremely bad news for the White House. If the economic news were better, we’d be hearing a lot more about that and a lot less about gay marriage and contraception.
With both national tracking polls showing Romney ahead this morning, the social strategy doesn’t seem to be working. That’s hardly a surprise; voters say the economy matters more to them than any other issue this year.