Free Markets, Free People
The following statistics were released today on the state of the US economy:
The general business conditions index of the Philadelphia Fed’s Business Outlook Survey improved to-7.1 from July’s -12.9. In other words, the rate of contraction isn’t as bad as it was less month.
Housing starts in July fell -1.1% after rising 6.9% in June. The July pace of 0.746 million units was up 21.5% on a year-ago basis.
Initial jobless claims rose 2,000 last week to 366,000, but the 4-week average, at 363,750, was down 5,500 from the prior week.
The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index fell to -44.4, which is its lowest reading since January 29.
E-commerce sales rose 3.3% in the second quarter, with year-on-year growth at 15.3%. E-commerce sales were 5.1% of total retail sales.
Another indicator poll. Again, these polls, at this point, are much more valuable than the horse race polls at this point.
They indicate the mood of the public. They tell you what is bothering them (or what is pleasing them). They allow you then to consult electoral history to get an idea of what these sorts of indicators usually mean.
The one issue that Obama gets a majority approval on is really not even on the radar screen for most Americans. Terrorism is there but unless there’s a big event involving America, it’s not a major issue for this campaign.
Next comes education. What Obama gets there is a passing grade – barely. But again, that’s not a top issue in this campaign. Nor are foreign affairs.
Immigration is important in certain regions of the country and he’s doing poorly there.
But his worst job approval comes in the three top issues for 2012. Jobs, the economy and the budget deficit.
In all three categories Obama’s is dismal. His disapproval rating is very high.
While most of the issues above pertain to the country, the jobs and economy categories are much more personal in nature. They have a great impact on individuals. And it is individuals who vote. Right now, only 37% of voters think he’s doing a good job creating jobs (and 58% think he’s doing a poor job), 36% approve (60% disapprove) of his handling of the economy and only 30% (64% disapprove) of his handling of the budget deficit.
That means he now “owns” the economy. And note the percentages of approval he gets are just about the same percentage of those who self-identify as Democrats.
So, what must Obama do? Well here’s Gallup’s advice:
Nearly six in 10 Americans approve of Obama’s handling of terrorism; however, that is where majority approval of the president ends in the current poll. He earns his lowest issue ratings on the economic issue areas tested in the survey, with approval on the federal budget deficit the lowest at 30%, and his approval on the economy not much higher, at 36%.
While Obama’s issue ratings are largely unchanged from where they have been over the past year, that stability may be a problem given his overall job approval rating is 45%. Historically, presidents who won a second term had near-50% job approval ratings or better prior to the election. To move closer to that range, Obama may want to focus singularly on raising his approval rating on the economy, as with previous presidents it seems to have been the issue approval most closely linked to overall job approval.
However, Team Obama wants to do anything but focus on the economy since doing so would also focus on how poorly it has performed and provide an opportunity to the GOP to point out why (policy, etc.). He wants nothing to do with that sort of focus. Thus the alternate campaign of distraction characterized by “small ball” where Obama et al try to divert attention from these issues to irrelevant issues that have no real bearing on these issues but capture the media’s attention and are exploitable by the Obama campaign.
Result? Well, we’ll see. I don’t believe he can hide from this forever. And as the election nears, it will become more and more difficult to avoid these issues (and more obvious if he attempts it). He’s eventually going to have to explain the 8.3% unemployment rate, the failure of the stimulus, the dramatic increase of the deficit (to no avail) and the planned trillion dollar deficits for the future.
And when that happens, and since its obvious the public now charge him with responsibility for the economy, it’s unlikely his ratings are going to improve.
This can’t help the mainstream media’s already battered reputation or it’s constant claim of objective political reporting:
Likely voters, by a five-to-one margin, believe that America’s media is in President Obama’s pocket and will treat his candidacy better than challenger Mitt Romney’s as the election nears, according to a new Rasmussen Reports poll.
The startling numbers point to an even more disturbing trend for the media: Reporters just aren’t trusted to deliver the news in an unbiased fashion. The proof: Rasmussen found that when it comes to information about the presidential campaign, 48 percent of likely voters trust friends and family while just 26 percent trust reporters.
In fact, it’s even worse than those two lead paragraphs in the story:
The poll found that 59 percent of likely voters believe that the media has given Obama better treatment than Romney, a view Team Obama doesn’t agree with. Just 18 percent believe the media has treated Romney better.
Whether or not “Team Obama” agrees is irrelevant. In politics, perception is reality. And the reality is a large majority of likely voters (the key demographic) find the media both bias and wanting in terms of fair, objective and balanced political reporting.
So what is the impact of this?
Well, for one, tuning the media out. Few people are likely to keep listening to or watching coverage don’t trust. One of the reasons for the rise of the new media is it provides an important “other side” to the coverage of politics.
Despite their protestations to the contrary, the mainstream media has been unable to convince almost 60% of the likely voters they’re unbiased and trustworthy. That has to come from somewhere when you talk those numbers. And it is unlikely it is only a figment of that 60%’s imagination. They see the bias as real and they don’t like it or trust what they consider the biased outlets.
If you’re wondering why CNN’s numbers are at an all time low or why newspapers are failing this is part of it. Meanwhile the new media is thriving. It may not be objective, but readers and viewers know that, because new media outlets make no bones about it. What these outlets provide is “the rest of the story”. And when the rest of the story comes out, and all the facts are on the table, not just what the mainstream media chose to use, it makes the mainstream medias bias apparent.
Another reason the mainstream media is considered to be in Obama’s pocket is that instead of asking hard questions and follow up, and researching a story, they’ve become a transcription service. Whatever the campaign or White House put out is dutifully published or announced with little or any questioning. When that is shot full of holes by blogs and on-line news services and pundits, they again look to be biased (when, in many cases, they’re just not doing their job).
The question, of course, is with almost 60% of likely voters believing that the mainstream media is in Obama’s pocket, what effect will that have on the election.
In the past the media has, of course, played a large role in helping determine who the next president would be. Will the 60% disregard and ignore the media? Will they treat it as a propaganda arm of the campaign and seek their information elsewhere? Because of the perception held by a majority of the likely voters, will the media play a diminished role in this election?
All interesting and entertaining questions which we’ll have to monitor during this election cycle.
I remember years ago, after QandO got started and blogs began having some visibility and impact, media organizations sniffing down their arrogant noses at these upstarts who dared to question their dominance and reminding everyone the difference between some loser in the basement in his pajamas churning out his stuff and a professional organization, with trained journalists and 3 layers of editors.
Well as it turns out, that difference hasn’t mattered. The pajama clad are still around (and pretty well established now) and the professional organizations with trained journalists and 3 layers of editors have seen their reputations and followings dwindle.
You’d think, by now, they’d be clued into the ‘why’, but apparently its like economics to the left – it just doesn’t compute.