When Presidents must look like they perform well

All the fuss still ignores main driver of popularity says Steve Korniak at Salon:

That’s because, for all the talk about whether he gave away too much on healthcare or hasn’t reacted angrily enough to the oil spill, Obama (like every president) is a prisoner to the economy. As long as the unemployment rate remains high, no amount of “magic” will restore Obama’s robust January 2009 poll numbers. (At this point, only some kind of international or terrorist incident, which might produce a rally-around-the-flag effect, could do so.)

It is absolutely not a coincidence that the basic themes of Blow’s column were also sounded by pundits in the first half of Ronald Reagan’s first term. Reagan, after all, was the last president to deal with double-digit unemployment. (His presidency also began with broad popularity, high expectations, and a souring economy — sound familiar?) At virtually this same point in his first term (August 1982), Reagan’s approval rating dipped to 41 percent. It was seen as a stunning decline for a man who had been elected in a 44-state landslide less than two years earlier. The unemployment rate when that survey was conducted was 9.8 percent, and trending upward. Today, it is 9.7 percent, with no substantial drop on the immediate horizon.

None of this is to say that Obama hasn’t made mistakes, possibly big mistakes, in his presidency. But they are not the reason why his poll numbers are where they are. Mass opinion doesn’t respond to the details of policy, no matter how important they might be. It responds to the economy. If the economy turns around, Obama’s numbers will, too. If it doesn’t, they won’t. There’s really nothing magical about it.

I believe voters overall do not allow nuance to impact their votes…it is a forced choice game anyway, which may or may not match up to personal thinking or feeling. One of those major drivers is perceived performance and expectation of the ‘economy’ personally or for people we know…examples of the focus on ‘economics’ are everywhere, even if couched in other terms.

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