Free Markets, Free People

Americans that are satisfied with “national condition” 2nd lowest since 1979

I put the results of a lot of polls up.  I also skip a lot of them.  I usually skip those that I think are transitory and really don’t mean anything in the long run, such as candidate popularity polls a year out from an election with no settled nominee on one side of the political spectrum.  At this point, they change like the wind.

But I also think there are “indicator” polls that are important regardless of when they’re taken in relation to the next national election.  Direction of the country is one (satisfaction).  Voter enthusiasm is another (most energized).  And where the independents fall is a third (they decide elections).

Here’s a fourth “indicator” poll (by Gallup) that should disturb the incumbent president’s campaign greatly:

Throughout 2011, an average of 17% of Americans said they were satisfied with the way things are going in the United States. That is the second-lowest annual average in the more than 30-year history of the question, after the 15% from 2008. Satisfaction has averaged as high as 60% in 1986, 1998, and 2000.

Why is this important?  Because politics is a game of perception and in the end, the only perception that matters is the one the voters have both in general and specifically about certain issues and candidates.   But it is the general perception that colors voters views on both issues and candidates.  And that’s why this poll indicates problems for the president.  It is numbers like this that spell election loss to those who’ve been in charge for a term. 

The obvious thing the Obama campaign is going to have to do is try to sell the idea that things could have been a lot worse if it weren’t for the “savior”.    That’s a very difficult job.  Because people tend to judge the condition of the country based on their situation and circumstances (or that of family and friends). 

Here’s the bottom line for the President’s campaign that no amount of spin will be able to change:

Americans continue to express low levels of satisfaction with the way things are going in the United States, rivaling the lowest Gallup has measured in the past 30+ years. That dissatisfaction probably reflects Americans’ economic anguish, and the prospects for considerable improvement in satisfaction are not great unless the economy improves significantly.

Likely or unlikely in the next 11 months?

If I had to guess, and watching the developments around the world, such as Europe as well as the US, I’d say “not very likely”.


Twitter: @McQandO

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