Obama Should Be Losing, But...

From The NationalJournal:

Obama’s fortunes are rooted in voters’ dimming expectations for the economy and the federal government, and their apparent conclusion that the country’s current misery is not entirely the president’s fault. Polls show Americans appear resigned to an economic future only mildly better than the status quo. Their disgust with Washington has left them skeptical that anyone can lead the country out of the slog.

Further muddling the economic dynamic is the emerging evidence that Americans have lowered their expectations for growth—yet they remain eager to grasp at any indication that they are wrong. Voters see the economy, ever so slowly, improving. It’s a critical distinction. If things were getting worse, economists say (and even Obama campaign officials concede), the president would likely be losing. Instead, he appears to be benefiting from voters seeing slivers of good news where economic data suggest there are none to be found. Optimism is rising, improbably, among consumers, small businesses, and stock traders, with Democrats and (more crucially) a share of independents feeling better about the future than Republicans.

“The new normal is the old dismal,” says Ed Gillespie, the former chairman of the Republican National Committee. “If you believe that 1.5 percent economic growth rates and chronic unemployment around 8 percent and flat wages are our lot in life and that’s acceptable, if that mentality takes root and is acceptable to a majority of Americans, President Obama could get reelected. But I don’t believe that’s where a majority of Americans will be on Election Day.”

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