Weak June manufacturing numbers released Monday intensified concern about the fragility of the economic recovery and turned election-watchers’ attention toward unemployment numbers due out at the end of this week.
The reports, just four months before voters cast their ballots in the presidential election, come amid a wave of bad news on the global economy, which is seen by both the White House and President Obama’s critics as the most potent threat to his chances of securing a second term in office.
The Gallup Economic Confidence Index averaged -22 in June, down from -17 in May and reverting to the -22 recorded in February. Still, the index remains near the upper boundary of confidence reached since the start of 2008, and is substantially improved over the worst negative periods seen since that time.
Both components of the index -- Americans' ratings of current economic conditions and their perceptions of whether the economy is getting better or getting worse -- declined slightly in June. The -18 economic outlook rating reflects 38% of Americans saying the economy is improving and 56% saying it is getting worse. At the same time, 15% of Americans say the economy is in excellent or good shape, while 41% consider it poor, resulting in a -26 current conditions rating.Chris Stirewalt sums up:
Obama has frequently complained of the “headwinds” previously described in order to explain to voters why they should not blame him for the sad state of things in the economy. It is understandable that he would focus on that rather than the domestic problems dragging down the economy. Blaming Europe and China is better for the incumbent than saying, “We’re kind of a mess.”
The Democratic line for the year remains what it was in 2010: Things are bad, but they would have been worse without the massive interventions conceived by the Obama Democrats. This is not a terrible line, but it is a tough sell. Moderate, independent voters are a fickle lot with whom the standing question is “what have you done for me lately.”
The hope on the blue team after their 2010 catastrophe was that the economy would have been enough revived by 2012 to make their argument more convincing. But that’s not going to happen.