Throughout President Obama’s first term, his Republican detractors desperately tried to convince the public that poor economic conditions were the White House’s fault. It was a bad argument that struggled to persuade – the American mainstream may have a short memory, but folks realized that Obama didn’t create a crisis, he inherited one.
What I find interesting at this point, however, is how consistent public attitudes remain on the subject over the course of several years.
Gallup published a report yesterday with this chart, explaining, “Americans are still more likely to blame former President George W. Bush ‘a great deal’ or ‘a moderate amount’ than President Barack Obama for the country’s current economic problems. More Americans blamed Bush during Obama’s first year as president in 2009; however, since mid-2010, views have been steady at levels similar to today’s.”
Less than a fifth (19%) of Americans blame President Obama solely for the nation’s ongoing economic problems, while nearly twice as many (35%) hold his Republican predecessor solely responsible.
In case you’re curious, blaming congressional Republicans wasn’t one of the choices available to survey respondents.
The results surprise me, at least a little, because Bush, his comments on immigration this morning notwithstanding, has been largely out of the public eye in recent years. I expected Americans to blame him less partly because of the passage of time and partly because former presidents invariably see their public standing improve after they leave office.
But when it comes to crashing the economy, it appears much of the public still holds a grudge. A trauma this severe is not easily forgotten.