Economist notes that Americans are quite
pessimistic right now:
Six months from
polling day, America’s election campaign has opened with a blizzard of
tendentious commercials, contrived razzamatazz and mind-numbing trivia. Was
the stadium in Ohio at which Barack Obama launched his campaign on May 5th
really “half empty”, as a conservative website reported?
(Probably not: there were perhaps 14,000 Obama supporters in a stadium that
can accommodate some 20,000 people.) Had the vice-president, Joe Biden, embarrassed
his boss by expressing support for gay marriage when Mr
Obama’s own thoughts were supposedly still “evolving”? (Not
for long: within days Mr Obama announced that he
now supported it too.) On May 8th Mr Obama popped
up to Albany, New York, with a new gimmick. He unveiled a five-point
job-creating “to do” list, which he knows the Republicans in a
gridlocked Congress will not enact.
love elections. But data compiled by the redoubtable Bill Galston
of the Brookings Institution show that this one is unfolding against a deep
gloom. Four recent surveys have found that on average only 28% of Americans
are satisfied with the condition of the country, while 70% are dissatisfied.
Three recent surveys have found that between 69% and 83% of Americans believe
that the country is still in recession (it isn’t), and only half
believe that a recovery is under way.
conclude that Mr Obama has failed them on the
economy, they will fire him and hire Mitt Romney in November. That is normal.
Less normal is how many Americans have come to think that the country is not
just passing through a rough patch but is in long-term decline. A survey of
12 swing states found 55% agreeing that the jobs being created in the
recovery are of lower quality than those jobs lost during the recession. By a
margin of nearly two to one, Americans expect their children’s jobs,
salaries and benefits to be worse than their own. Some 35% go so far as to
say that America’s best days are behind it.
the magazine, this glass-half-full sentiment owes much to the fact that we
are in election season, where sharply critical rhetoric coming from both
sides of the aisle is serving to accentuate the negative.
In other words,
the fact that people feel things are in bad shape --
and getting worse -- is a matter of (mis)perception.
with this view, of course, is that Americans have been feeling that things
have been moving in the wrong direction for several years -- that is, before and after the presidential
election clown show -- and the so-called economic recovery -- began.
But I guess
that's a minor detail.
Michael J. Panzner