For the first time, more than 50 percent of Americans blame President Barack Obama for the nation’s economic woes, a Gallup poll released Thursday finds.
An unemployment crisis, falling home values and incomes, the debt ceiling debate and rising poverty may be making Americans less confident in the president’s ability to keep the economy on sound footing. In an effort to boost employment and spur growth, Obama unveiled a plan earlier this month that includes a combination of spending and tax cuts, known as the American Jobs Act.
Even if Americans blame the president for the struggling economy, they’re supportive of his proposed efforts to fix it, according to The Center for American Progress, a progressive think tank. The organization cited multiple polls before Obama announced the jobs act, which found more Americans supported a payroll tax cut and infrastructure spending than didn’t, two measures which the president included in his proposal.
But a majority of Americans don’t think Obama’s plan will lower the unemployment rate, a Bloomberg poll found. And if it doesn’t, Obama may end up counting himself in the ranks of the unemployed after election day. No president since World War II has won re-election with an unemployment rate above 6 percent except for Ronald Reagan in 1984, according to Bloomberg.
Obama inherited an already high unemployment rate of 7.6 percent when he entered office in January 2009, which may be why the Gallup poll found that more Americans blame George W. Bush for the nation’s economic turmoil than the current president. Almost 70 percent of Americans blame Bush “a great deal” or “a moderate amount” for the state of the economy, according to Gallup.
Americans held similar views in June 2008, according to a Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll. At the time, 75 percent of Americans said the country’s economic condition had worsened since he became president.
More Americans could be blaming Bush because Republicans are more likely to fault their own party leaders for the state of the economy than Democrats, the poll found. That may be why a plurality of Americans blamed congressional Republicans for Standard & Poor’s downgrading the nation’s credit rating last month, according to a NBC News/Wall Street Journal Poll.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post mistakenly stated that Barack Obama was inaugurated in January 2010 and that George W. Bush left office in June 2008.