Gallup's U.S. Economic Confidence Index averaged -27 for the week ending July 15, down four points from -23 each of the prior two weeks. This extends a gradual decline in confidence that has been underway since late May, when the index was at a four-year best of -16. The index was nearly this low a month ago -- at -26 in mid-June -- and now stands at the lowest weekly average since late January of this year.In March, Gallup reported:
Americans' economic confidence has in general been improving over the past six months, likely caused by a decrease in unemployment and a rise in the stock market. Gallup's analysis indicates that relatively small gains in economic confidence from this point forward should be associated with enough gain in Obama's job approval rating to push it to the 50% level -- the threshold above which previous incumbent presidents have all been re-elected.
Of course, the current connection between economic confidence and presidential job approval also makes Obama especially vulnerable to any decrease in consumer optimism. It is also possible that another issue will emerge in the coming months, displacing the economy as uppermost in Americans' minds. However, barring such changes, Obama's fate now appears more closely linked with the economy than at any other time in his presidency.