IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Americans' economic confidence on the rise

For the first time since the Great Recession, the public is feeling better about its economic conditions. The political implications will likely be dramatic.
A rainbow forms over a neighbourhood following a massive snow storm in West Seneca
A rainbow forms over a neighbourhood following a massive snow storm in West Seneca, New York, Nov. 24, 2014.
The latest Bloomberg Politics poll shows President Obama with an overall approval rating of 47%, which is roughly in line with other national polling, but it wasn't the result that stood out most.

Americans are becoming more optimistic about the country's economic prospects by several different measures. President Barack Obama's handling of the economy is being seen more positively than negatively for the first time in more than five years, 49 percent to 46 percent -- his best number in this poll since September 2009. [...] "The uptick extends not just to Obama but to the mood of the country and to things getting better," says J. Ann Selzer, president of West Des Moines, Iowa-based Selzer & Co., which conducted the poll. "This will be an interesting potential transition, if it's a movement that signals the country is more cognizant about things turning better and that, in an indirect way, they're feeling better about Obama."

As Aaron Blake noted this morning, it's not the only poll showing Americans feeling better about economic conditions.

For more than six years now, President Obama's record has been bogged down, to varying degrees, by the economy.... But things have taken a turn. New Gallup polling shows, for the first time during the Obama presidency and since the recession in which it began, a majority of Americans -- 52 percent -- say their personal financial situation is getting better.

The economic results themselves aren't new -- the unemployment rate, for example, has been dropping quickly for years -- but the public's beliefs are starting to come into line with the data. In other words, the economy has improved considerably since President Obama helped end the Great Recession, but we're now reaching the point at which most Americans feel that improvement and experience it in their own lives.
The political implications are likely to be dramatic.
Obviously, the improved confidence won't benefit Obama at the ballot box, since he can't run again, but the state of the economy will play a key role in determining who his successor is.
The Republican message continues to be that the president's economic agenda was a spectacular failure that must never be repeated, but the problem isn't just the degree to which GOP talking points are at odds with reality -- they're also at odds with what much of the country actually believes.
In an electoral context, the more Republicans tell voters, "We must do the opposite of everything Obama has done," the more the electorate is likely to ask, "Wait, we do? Really?"
It's worth emphasizing that the Bloomberg Politics poll also found that most of the country, while more confident about the economy, also believes there's a growing gap between the rich and everyone else.
It just so happens, then, that the American mainstream and Hillary Clinton appear to be on the same page.