Politics and Public Opinion

How America’s Bad Mood Imperils Obama’s Reelection

The Misery Index—the sum of the unemployment rate plus inflation rate—is a shorthand way of looking at how the U.S. economy might affect the political fortunes of American presidents. The current MI is around 13, which is as high as it’s been since the early 1980s when stagflation was finally loosening its grip. When Jimmy Carter was blown out by Ronald Reagan in 1980, the MI was around 20. When Barack Obama took office in January 2009, it was 8.

A more direct way of measuring the mood of America is by looking at various measures of sentiment. Pollsters frequently ask voters a) if they are “satisfied” with the way things are going, and b) if the country is “heading in the right direction.” By those metrics, as compiled by AEI, Obama looks to be in big trouble:

Adding those numbers together creates a sort of ad hoc “Happiness Index” where the higher the number the better for politicians. Obama’s is 31 right now versus 96 for George W. Bush in 2003, 54 for Clinton in 1995, 59 for George Bush in 1991, 86 for Reagan in 1983, and 35 for Carter in 1979.

But that is today. What about next year? Will another year of 9 percent (or higher) unemployment and slow income growth make Americans more satisfied with the way things are going or more confident in the nation’s direction? The numbers might not get much worse, but it’s hard to see how they get a whole better—or how Obama’s approval ratings improve from current levels under that economic scenario. And if the United States suffers even a “mild” recession? Here’s Goldman Sachs:

A U.S. recession today would be painful. Given its high level, even a “small” increase could take the unemployment rate to 11-12%.

7 thoughts on “How America’s Bad Mood Imperils Obama’s Reelection

  1. With an unemployment rate of approx. 9.1%, an MI of 13 would imply inflation of 3.9%. Granted the real rate of unemployment is much higher, even assuming this lower figure, an inflation rate of only 3.9% would suggest the way this figure is calculated is useless. Real buyers know that the price of food, clothing, and much more they buy regularly has risen substantially more.

    An adjusted MI would be closer to 20, the figure extant when “Jimmy Carter was blown out by Ronald Reagan.” We should expect Rick Perry to do the same. If Mitt Romney gets the nomination instead, you can expect the MI to continue to stay the same for four more years, if it doesn’t get worse as Romney continues Obama’s policies.

  2. Only NJ Gov. Chris Christie can save America from all that Obama has done to destroy America. Please vote for Chris Christie (the greatest Governor in U.S. History) for President of the United States in 2012!

  3. “And if the United States suffers even a ‘mild’ recession…” Hey, Jim, what planet are you on? We’ve been in the most lugubrious recession of my adult lifetime since the fall of 2008.

  4. Well, when you have a fraud occupying the WH, and he’s been taught from early childhood by Marxists and Communists, what do you expect Obama to do? He’s doing exactly as his mindset is: America is bad; capitalism is bad; free markets are bad; white people are bad (re: Eric Holder’s DOJ’s racialist agenda). Obama hates America. He’s not in office to help us America, he’s there to destroy us! If I need to explain it any further, then you are either part of the problem, or you just flat out don’t care, or you’re not paying attention.

    I believe the Obama House of Cards is starting to crumble. His no show at his administrative hearing in Georgia is not surprising one bit. Obama’s contempt of court proceedings is what Obama is — he has not respect for the Rule of Law or our Constitution. He considers himself above the law — after all, he’s the dictator! What’s Obama going to do when Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s Cold Case Posse comes out with their report in Feb.? Obama should be sweating bullets, but, in spite of his arrogance and conceit, his wall of protection is starting to show cracks.

    God help America and the sooner we get to the bottom of who really is Barack Hussein Obama, the better off our country will be. I know who he is, no one’s been given the opportunity to find out because of all the corrupt judges who have said we, the American people, have no ‘standing.’ But, alas, finally, a judge in Georgia who apparently still believes in his oath of office to protect and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic! Wow, I appaud you, your honor!

    Obama must have his defensive radar up and we’ll just have to wait and see what comes of all of this. I’m praying Obama the Fraud will finally be exposed for who and what he is and be forced out of the people’s house. We can then, finally start to get our country back and be #1 again in the world, despite the elite’s wet dream of a New World Order.

  5. Aw, whadda Matter Poor Widdle Americans Who Elected Obama?! Hmm?! Did he do what HE TOLD YOU he would do in his campign promises! He told yo he would destory the country! All the while you were screaming YES WE CAN! CHANGE WE CAN BELIEVE IN! He’s Still probably wondering how he got in the White House, he did everything he could to stop you from voting for him!!!

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