As President Obama is touring the countryside on his bus tour, the feedback he is receiving from Americans may suggest that the country is headed downward. A new AP-GfK poll shows that 72 percent of those polled believe the country is headed in the wrong direction and 43 percent describe the economy as “very poor.”
October has historically been seen as a challenging month for the stock market, but the number of Americans who are pessimistic about the economy is giving the Obama administration plenty to worry about, as the president’s disapproval rating in the poll is 52 percent.
Dr. Laura Olsen, professor of political science at Clemson University, agrees that these types of poll numbers are not welcome news at the White House.
“No one wants the economy to perform poorly, but this plays more into the GOP’s hands,” said Olsen. “They just need to produce a nominee for the general election that is going to make the economy their number one issue if they want to beat President Obama.”
Yet Olsen and other political analyst don’t believe Republicans have a lock on the 2012 race.
“You would think that with all the negative news about the economy, Republicans could find a way to capitalize on this unfortunate news, but that hasn’t been the case. The Republican candidates are spending more time beating up on each other and it takes away their advantage to capitalize on the issue.”
However, Congress is not fairing any better. Of the “likely voters” surveyed in the poll, 79 percent disapprove of the way Congress is handling its job and 84 percent are “extremely concerned” about the country’s high unemployment rate.
Even worse, 41 percent believe the economy will remain the same and 27 percent believe is will get worse in the next 12 months.
“I don’t think there is any question that for a Republican to capture the nomination, they’ve got to make the economy their number one issue,” Olsen said.
“When the economy is bad, it trumps everything. Bill Clinton took advantage of the economy in 1992 when his campaign coined the phrase, ‘It’s the economy stupid.’ It worked then and it can work in 2012 if things remain the way they are today.”
Democrats who were surveyed in the poll tended to stick by the president and were much more confident in his ability to turn the economy around with 70 percent expressing such confidence. However, only 37 percent of independents and 11 percent of Republicans were as optimistic.
The AP-GrK poll was conducted October 13-17 with 1,000 people surveyed. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus four percentage points.