Friday, March 6, 2009

Time Will Change the Blame Game Playing Field


The folks over at FiveThirtyEight.com, a great site that combines revealing political polls with valuable insight, have constructed an interesting projection of where Americans will place blame for the economic situation (political blame, that is -- don't get too excited, bankers).

Starting from an NBC/WSJ poll showing that only 8% of Americans blame Obama for the increasingly-perilous economic situation, they project that over 50% of voters will consider the current president responsible for it in September 2010. Importantly, this is only two short months prior to the mid-term elections, when Republicans will be fighting to claw back from their past two humiliating defeats and Democrats will be hoping to increase their majorities, especially in the Senate, where they will likely be just one vote away from a 60 vote, filibuster-proof majority.

But this might mean less than we think:

Perhaps not coincidentally, 18 months is also about the point at which a majority of voters expect the recession to have ended. By comparison, of the several dozen economists polled in the Wall Street Journal's monthly forecasting survey, 65 percent expect the recession to have ended by the third quarter of 2009, and 100 percent anticipate its conclusion by the end of 2010.

If the economists are right, it's good news for Obama. But could such a strong correlation between Obama-blaming and expectations about the recession's end mean that, if people push back their expectations of when they expect the recession to end (say, to 24 months?), their tolerance for Obama-style policies will persist longer, as well? It looks like we have a good bit of time before we find out.

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