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Obama escapes blame for the economy, but he can’t escape the economy

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President Obama continues to dodge taking the blame for causing the country’s economic problems, but people are more than happy to blame him for failing to pull the nation “out of the ditch” fast enough.

New polling from Marist College for McClatchy newspapers shows Obama’s approval on the economy hitting a new low, with just 40 percent of voters now approving of the job he’s done. His disapproval is also at a new high, 57 percent.

At the same time, voters continue to ascribe the financial crisis to Obama’s predecessors, with just 30 percent saying the problems are mostly a result of his policies, and another 63 percent saying he inherited them.

But while the blame rationing has been pretty consistent — with even one-third of Republicans still saying it wasn’t (mostly) his fault — Obama’s approval on the economy has dropped at a steady pace.

And it’s all about pessimism.

According to the poll, 57 percent of Americans think the worst of the economic crisis is yet to come — a stunning 18-point increase since January and the highest in at least seven months.

Despite small gains in the unemployment rate and other measures, people aren’t seeing things get better fast enough, and now that gas prices are rising, people are losing hope again.

Four years is a long time to avoid the blame, and whatever was left of Obama’s economic honeymoon appears to be at an end. Americans are increasingly pegging the state of the economy to Obama’s tenure as president; while it might have been the other guy who got you in this mess, it’s this guy who hasn’t yet gotten you out of it.

“I think we’re to the point that voters are holding the president responsible for not fixing the problems, regardless of their cause,” said GOP pollster Jon McHenry.

Which harkens back to something you will hear over and over again: that Obama’s reelection is almost completely tied to what happens to the economy.

Birth certificates, deficit reduction and collective bargaining may be the issues du jour, but the public’s view of the economy is so closely tied to Obama’s approval rating that we sometimes forget how simple the equation is when it comes to his reelection campaign.

The good news for Obama is that this is a poll in early 2011 — 18 months before the only poll that matters. Plenty will happen between now and then on the economy.

At this point though, it appears things may have to improve for Obama to win.

Ads up against McCaskill and Brown: The League of Women Voters is going up with $1.6 million in ads against Sens. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) and Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) for their votes on environmental legislation. Both are targeted for their votes on amendments to small business legislation.

Brown is criticized for voting to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from putting forth regulations concerning the emission of greenhouse gases to prevent climate change. McCaskill is hit for voting to suspend any implementation of the Clean Air Act for anything other than vehicle emissions (known as the Rockefeller Amendment, for author Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.).

Both ads feature young children suffering from asthma. It’s part of a new campaign, “People Not Polluters.”

Anti-abortion group appeals to Daniels: The anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony List is urging Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) to sign legislation defunding Planned Parenthood.

Daniels is under pressure from both sides as he makes his decision. Planned Parenthood has argued that the bill is fiscally irresponsible and vowed to sue if it becomes law. Anti-abortion groups like this one are pressuring Daniels to live up to his reputation as a staunch ally.

Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser said recently that she believes Daniels, who has called for a “truce” on social issues, will sign the legislation: “We expect that Gov. Daniels understands that there is no truce on doing what is right.”

N.H. Dems file complaint against Romney: The New Hampshire Democratic Party has filed a complaint to the Federal Election Commission against former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney (R), alleging that his campaign is funneling soft money though his state political action committees.

The argument is that donors to these PACs intended to help Romney’s presidential campaign, not state efforts, and that he illegally used the state funds for his own national campaign. Some of these PACs can accept unlimited corporate and individual donations, while donations to a federal presidential campaign are strictly limited.

Money raised by state PACs is not supposed to be used for a federal campaign, and there is no indication that it’s happening in Romney’s case. And Romney isn’t the only one using creative campaign finance setups, and the FEC generally gives candidates the benefit of the doubt on these arrangements.

Club for Growth scorecard highlights: The conservative Club for Growth is out with its 2010 scorecard rating lawmakers according to their votes.

A few nuggets:

* Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), whom the Club may try to defeat for the Republican nomination in 2012, tied for the third-highest score at 97 percent (though his lifetime score is much lower — 74 percent).

* Other potential 2012 Club targets, Sens. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), as usual scored near the bottom among Republicans. Snowe, whose lifetime score is 26 percent, upped that to 49 percent but was still the lowest-scoring Republican. Lugar was slightly above his average at 70 percent.

* Former Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) took his party change to heart. After switching to become a Democrat in 2009. Specter, whose lifetime score is 32 percent, dropped to 0 percent.

* House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), with a so-so lifetime rating of 83 percent, clocked in at 100 percent for 2010.

Fixbits:

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) won’t join in on the Trump-bashing.

Another setback for the Carl-Lewis-for-state-Senate team.

Rick Santorum lays out his foreign policy agenda.

West Virginia state House Speaker Rick Thompson (D) is up with a new ad in the state’s governor’s race highlighting efforts to curb union rights in Ohio and Wisconsin and saying he’ll fight for unions.

President Obama’s approval rating is sliding in New Hampshire.

Must-reads:

GOP releases NV redistricting map, awaits Dem plan” — AP

Here’s to Haley” — Kathy Kiely, National Journal

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