A new Gallup poll shows Americans still blame former President George W. Bush for the nation’s ailing economy more than President Obama—a stark finding five months before an election in which economic issues have been front and center.
The Gallup survey, released Thursday and based on telephone interviews with 1,004 adults between June 7 and 10, contained variously encouraging or discouraging elements for Republicans or Democrats alike.
While Bush is blamed by 68% of Americans, compared to just 52% who fault Obama, that is down from the 80% blame Bush got when Gallup first asked the question in July 2009, six months after Obama’s inauguration. Meanwhile, the negative assessment of Obama has held steady at around half of the American population since 2010 (while in July 2009 just 32% found him blameworthy).
Also of note, about half of Republicans (49%) blame Bush for the poor economy (compared to 83% of them who hold Obama at fault), while Democrats are mostly lined up behind Obama, with 90% blaming Bush (and just 19% assigning blame to Obama). Respondents could blame both presidents.
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Perhaps the one thing uniting all Americans is their identification of the economy as the most pressing national problem, Gallup reports.
For that reason, the issue of who bears responsibility for an economy that most Americans view negatively (again, according to Gallup) is likely to emerge as a key campaign issue.
As if on cue, today’s Wall Street Journal featured an op-ed titled “Whose Fault is Today’s Bad Economy?” by Edward P. Lazear, who chaired the President’s Council of Economic Advisors during George W. Bush’s administration. An op-ed published earlier in the week by former President Bill Clinton’s former labor secretary Robert Reich, has a decidedly different view of what is causing today’s economic woes.
Lazear, currently affiliated with Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, compares the president to a replacement pitcher whose team is down by three runs in the fourth inning. After some initial success, the new pitcher gives up five runs in the sixth inning, and then tells reporters he didn’t pitch well because the team was behind before he entered the game in the fourth.