The economy? It’s still Bush’s fault

at 06:30 AM ET, 01/18/2012

A majority of Americans believe that former President George W. Bush is more responsible than President Obama for the current economic problems in the country, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.


In a Jan. 25, 2007 file photo President George W. Bush waves as he departs the White House in Washington for a trip to Missouri to speak on healthcare. (AP Photo/Ron Edmonds/file)
Fifty-four percent of respondents said that Bush was more to blame while 29 percent put the blame on Obama; 9 percent said both men deserved blame while 6 percent said neither did. Among registered voters, the numbers are almost identical; 54 percent blame Bush, while 30 percent blame Obama.

Independents, widely considered the most critical voting bloc this fall, continue to blame Bush far more than Obama for the economic troubles. Fifty-seven percent of unaffiliated voters put the blame on the former Republican president, while 25 percent believe the blame rests more with Obama.

Heck, even one in five Republicans say Bush is more responsible than Obama for the state of the economy!

The economic blame game numbers are somewhat remarkable given that Obama is in the third year of his presidency, a tenure defined by the continued economic distress in the country.

We’ve written for quite some time that the longer Obama is in office (and the longer Bush is out of it), the more likely it is that blame for the economy would shift toward him. But, these numbers suggest — gasp! — we were wrong.

Early in his presidency, Obama spent considerable rhetorical time and energy making sure people knew the economic difficulties he had inherited from Bush.

Republicans criticized that backward-looking approach, arguing that whatever had happened in the past, it was up to Obama to make things better in the future.

(Interestingly, just 15 percent of respondents in the Post-ABC poll said they were better off now than at the start of the Obama presidency, while 30 percent said they were not as well off and 54 percent said they were in about the same shape. So while Bush may have started it, people by and large think it has gotten worse under Obama.)

In recent months, Obama rarely if ever mentions Bush when he talks about the economy. But these numbers suggest that maybe he should, since a majority of Americans still lay the economic problems in the country at the Republican president’s feet.

Obviously, we are still 10 months from the election — months that will be filled with Republican attempts to convince voters that Obama is deserving of blame for the financial struggles gripping the country. And every election in which the country is in dire economic times is, in one way or another, centered on the “Are you better off than you were four years ago” question.

Still, that the baseline in the economic blame game still favors Obama over Bush suggests that Republicans’ attempt to use the economy to drag the incumbent down won’t be as simple as some in the party might think.

(The Fix’s Aaron Blake will be live chatting with readers on this topic at 12:30 p.m. eastern time today. Submit your questions and opinions now.)

Florida redistricting map passes state Senate: We’ve got our first real good indication of what Florida’s new congressional map might look like, after a GOP-drawn redistricting map sailed to passage in the state Senate on Tuesday.

In the state’s two new districts, it creates one seat where each party will be favored. The map also shores up freshman GOP Reps. Dennis Ross, Sandy Adams and Dan Webster while making things tougher on freshman Reps. Allen West and Steve Southerland and Rep. Tom Rooney.

The redistricting process in Florida has bigger partisan implications than perhaps any other state. That’s because, in addition to the two new seats, the GOP already holds an inordinate number of the state’s congressional seats (19 out of 25) and faces a tough task in keeping their incumbents in Congress.

Recognizing those stakes and the GOP’s longtime stranglehold on the state legislature, Democrats spearheaded a successful ballot amendment effort last year seeking to rein in the GOP’s ability to gerrymander new districts, and they have threatened to sue if the GOP doesn’t strictly follow the new rules.

The GOP’s state Senate redistricting chairman said he believes it complies with the law. The map passed 34 to 6, with more than half of Democrats supporting it, so it’s not clear how much Democratic resistance there will be.

Halvorson gains on Jackson: Former congresswoman Debbie Halvorson may actually have a shot in her primary with Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.).

A new Anzalone Liszt Research poll conducted for Halvorson’s campaign shows her trailing Jackson 48 percent to 35 percent, but her campaign notes that her name recognition is only 56 percent, compared to 96 percent for Jackson. That suggests she has room to grow.

Jackson only gets 63 percent of hte vote from African-Americans, which should comprise a strong majority of the primary electorate in the majority-black district. And as the only black candidate, he could conceivably win many of the votes he’s not currently getting.

But there’s also reason to believe some voters are simply turned off. The House ethics committee said in December that it would continue its investigation into Jackson.

A previous independent poll showed Jackson up 17 points, with many more undecided.

Here’s what The Fix wrote on this race shortly before that decision.

Fixbits:

Sarah Palin says she would support Newt Gingrich in South Carolina’s primary, but stopped short of an endorsement. Palin suggested she would support Gingrich in order to keep the GOP primary competitive.

The McCain campaign’s opposition research file on Mitt Romney magically appears.

Is Obama’s campaign going up with a big early ad buy?

The White House hits back on Gingrich’s “food stamp president” line.

Rick Perry’s effort to get on the Virginia ballot is officially denied.

The New Republic has more racy material from Ron Paul’s newsletters.

More key fourth quarter fundraising numbers.

Must-reads:

In presidential race, it’s the attack of the PACs” — Alina Selyukh, Reuters

Gingrich’s statements on matters of race and poverty get cheers, criticism” — Sandhya Somashekhar, Washington Post

Gingrich’s College Records Show a Professor Hatching Big Plans ” — Elizabeth Williamson, Wall Street Journal

 
Read what others are saying