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If only Obama had ...

See if this structure seems familiar to you: Over the past two years, Barack Obama has done X. Now, his poll numbers have slipped to 44 percent. His party is slated to lose a lot of seats in the 2010 midterms. Obama's decision to do X is to blame.

"X" can be a lot of things. Maybe it's the decision to attempt health-care reform. Or his socialist tendencies. Or his cool, professorial demeanor. In Matt Bai's latest article, John Podesta says it's Obama's pursuit of an ambitious legislative agenda. If he'd spent less time passing legislation, he could've spent more time developing and selling popular themes. In John Judis's latest article, it's the absence of populism in Obama's speeches and policies.

The problem with the essays is that they don't consider the counterfactual. What if Obama had done not-X? Would things really be better for him? How do we know they wouldn't be worse?

Sadly, we can't hit rewind on the cosmic VCR and persuade Obama to do the other thing in the name of science. But we have had a number of presidents who did very different things, and that gives us some basis on which to make judgments. Let's start with approval ratings. Gallup's system will let me compare only four presidents at once, so I chose the last three presidents who entered office amid a recession and didn't have a country-unifying terrorist attack in their first year. That gives us Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter. The dashed line is an average of all recent presidents. Click on the graph for a larger version.


Obama's current approval rating of 44 percent beats Clinton, Carter and Reagan. All of them were between 39 percent and 41 percent at this point in their presidencies. And all of them were former governors who accomplished less legislatively than Obama has at this point in his presidency. That seems like a problem for Bai's thesis. At least two of them are remembered as great communicators with a deft populist touch. That seems like a problem for Judis's thesis.

Now let's look at midterm results. The following graph shows the change in House seats for the president's party in every first-term midterm election since 1900.


The pattern here is obvious: Losses, and big ones. Except for FDR's first midterm and George W. Bush's post-9/11 victory, there've been no gains at all.

Now, this is a bit of an imperfect comparison. When the president's party controls more seats, it can lose more seats. In 1982, Republicans had 192 seats in the House, and they lost 26 of them. Democrats currently have 253 seats in the House, and Larry Sabato predicts they'll lose 32 of them. That's actually a smaller percentage than what the Republicans lost under Reagan.

There's plenty to criticize in Obama's policies and plenty to lament in his politics. But when it comes to grand theories explaining how his strategic decisions led him to this horrible -- but historically, slightly-better-than-average -- political position, I'm skeptical. There are enormously powerful structural forces in American politics that seem to drag down first-term presidents. There is the simple mathematical reality that large majorities are always likely to lose a lot of seats. There is a terrible and ongoing economic slump -- weekly jobless claims hit 500,000 today -- that is causing Americans immense pain and suffering. Any explanations for the current political mood that don't put those front and center is, at the least, not doing enough to challenge the counterfactual.

By Ezra Klein  |  August 19, 2010; 10:35 AM ET
Categories:  Obama administration  
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Next: Time for the revolution?


This does not contradict your point at all, but some historical perspective: Keep in mind that there are simply fewer marginal seats (seriously contested House elections) than there used to be. Between 1900 and around 1968, there were slightly over 100 districts in play in each election. In the seventies to nineties, the number was around 65. In the last few elections it has been closer to 50. Fewer competitive districts = smaller net seat swings between the parties.

Posted by: ethorson | August 19, 2010 10:51 AM | Report abuse

Very nicely done. This should be used as a prime example of how fact-based reporting can be done right. Succint, informative, and with the ability to check the evidence for yourself.

This reminds me of the ridiculous claims that Clinton and the Democrats were responsible for the national debt. The reality is that conservative administrations are responsible for 75% of it (or $8.3 out of $10.85 trillion according to the 2009 Budget Historical Tables):

Obama inherited this mess. I have profound disagreements with his approach to handling it (such as bringing in Summers and Geithner, two of the people whose policies helped create this economic crisis) but to say that Obama is responsible for the 500,000 unemployment figure is pure hypocrisy.

Thank you for bringing some needed skepticism and clarity to the media circus.

Posted by: EricMJohnson | August 19, 2010 11:01 AM | Report abuse

But the relevant comparison is FDR.

This isn't just a "slump." And he had a *massive* mandate to address it, huge majorities, huge public trust.

70 million voted for hope and change. Millions of us are having our hearts broken or watching those we love have their hearts broken by this economy. If we had any reason to think it would be much better in 5 years, maybe you'd have a point. But we don't.

It's not like no one told him. Have you heard, Paul Krugman has a column in the New York Times?

And then there are those 2 wars we didn't want. He's all, "it's so complex!" But those were gimmes. As was cleaning house at Interior.

Posted by: JaneG | August 19, 2010 11:04 AM | Report abuse

you want to know what's interesting. In NJ Christie outpolls Obama and the disparity is growing since June.

Its funny but that Hope and Change JaneG speaks of is here in NJ.

Posted by: visionbrkr | August 19, 2010 11:10 AM | Report abuse

Another thing worth noting: the Republicans currently have 178 seats in the House. The Democrats have NEVER been so repudiated--the fewest seats they won in elections of the modern age was 198 (in 1998).

It's kind of bizarre that we have this "center-right nation" narrative when almost every year we've had more Democrats in Congress than Republicans. And even after the end of the Dixiecrat era, the modern Republican party has suffered far, far greater repudiation than anything ever faced by Democrats. We're apparently a very strange sort of center-right nation, one that has more solid support for the center-left party.

If Republicans end up with a majority that's far, far, far weaker than the majority Democrats had, and if it's the typical sort of midterm losses we tend to see, can we realistically pretend this is an endorsement of the Republican party's still un-articulated agenda?

I understand reporters need a lede, but isn't it reckless reporting to simply make up reasons why Republicans won?

Posted by: theorajones1 | August 19, 2010 11:12 AM | Report abuse

You ever notice that Ezra almost always pushes back very hard at the idea that Obama could have done more with his time in office? And that he regularly trots out the theme of structural forces that prevented Obama from acting, or suggests that the bad economy meant that Obama was doomed anyway, regardless of what he did? I know I do, and it becomes very tiresome to hear the increasingly stale arguments of an apologist when I thought I was supposed to be getting critical thinking.

Posted by: redscott | August 19, 2010 11:29 AM | Report abuse

I wonder if a President who admitted that he or she didn't have total control over the economy wouldn't be blamed for it.

Posted by: staticvars | August 19, 2010 11:30 AM | Report abuse

With Wrza Klein seems to believe that the numbers equal past administrations at this time in history, I believe that there is greater fustration with the Obama administration and the one party rule for the past two years plus the Democratic control of both the House and Senate for the past four years. There is a simmering anger that may not be reflected in polls that makes it possibility worse than what the polls indicate.

Posted by: sales7 | August 19, 2010 11:35 AM | Report abuse

You know with Monday morning quarterbacking in sports at least the amateurs have most if not all of the information the coach had when he made whatever importand decision the fans are disputing. The fans know the stats of the player(s) and have seen how the player(s) perform in similar situation, etc.

With politics, however, there's a vast gulf of information between the people involved in the actual process and the people following along at home. This was most stark to me during healthcare, where people complained how President Obama could have gotten X or didn't have to accept Y if he really truly didn't want to and just "twisted arms".

The reality is that those of us following at home don't know what was said between legislators, staff, and the President. We don't know why some decisions were made and not others.

Posted by: MosBen | August 19, 2010 11:50 AM | Report abuse

I'm with JaneG in feeling like FDR is the most relevant comparison. Obama had a major mandate. What I feel people aren't realizing though is how much he's delivered on that mandate. Even just HCR alone ... we've been waiting for that many years, and bill they passed is a gem. It isn't perfect, but it's huge progress. That should be seen as hope fulfilled. We also got a generally effective stimulus package (albeit too small) and a noticable wind-down of the war in Iraq.

The problem with Obama is he hasn't been able to sell it. He's not a very good politician. He seems generally too inclined to refrain from clearly articulating his position in a way that can pin him to specific outcomes and potentially embarass his political opponents. He's trying to stay back and let Congress do it's work, but he doesn't seem to realize that in the absence of leadership we get the kind of hyperpartisanship in Congress we're now seeing. Democrats have done some very good things, as promised, and Republicans are a bit crazy right now, so it's a failure to see the latter primed to take seats.

Posted by: sanjait | August 19, 2010 11:54 AM | Report abuse

That's funny - when I look at the graph I notice that none of the POTUS Approval ratings have fallen as far as Obama's as a percentage except for Jimmy Carter. Also, none of fallen as consistently as Obama's.

Posted by: Holla26 | August 19, 2010 12:04 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Klein, thank you for this sane analysis amid all the insane rhetoric (morose doom on the left, vicious glee on the right). It's felt to me like Obama is doing all right and, after making the necessary post-midterm adjustments, will likely go on to win re-election. This confirms that gut feeling.

Posted by: iowanic | August 19, 2010 12:04 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Ezra.

The fact is that Obama's numbers are being dragged down mostly by the economy. Therefore, there are really two different critiques. One can make a reasonable policy critique - had Obama done X and Y and the economy were in better shape, THEN he would have a higher approval rating.

That to me is much more convincing than the other critique that pundits are so inclined to make, which is all about tone and optics. As you point out, the evidence is fairly thin that these kinds of things actually matter much, and there's also a strong case to be made that Obama's rating is actually higher than most other presidents would have under the economic conditions. (As an example, look at most gubernatorial approval ratings.)

Posted by: Isa8686 | August 19, 2010 12:13 PM | Report abuse

Ezra, you sure you want to criticize Obama? That's puts you in the same camp as the RACISTS ! Which begs the question... Why are you such a racist?

Posted by: soma_king | August 19, 2010 12:23 PM | Report abuse

You can spin it anyway you want but it's the economy/jobs stupid! 500,000 new jobless claims in the latest period tell the real story. Nov. 2, 2010 ain't gonna be pretty no matter how much you spin it.

Guess that's why the POTUS got out of town on yet another vacation!!!

Posted by: Jimbo77 | August 19, 2010 12:25 PM | Report abuse

American companies are even exporting subsistence-level jobs that pay NINE BUCKS AN HOUR! Even nine bucks an hour is too expensive for corporate America. Yikes!

Republic Party? Those trillion dollar tax cuts were supposed to help rich people create jobs, not export them, right? That's what you Raygun-lovers promised. Unions? You think call center workers making 9 bucks an hour are unionized? Regulations? What regulations killed these office jobs? ilton-to-close-southern-california-call-center-o ct-6/108539/1

The Hiltons of the corporate world need to realize that a flat-broke American populace will barely have enough money for basics, much less a stay in an expensive hotel.

Posted by: mongolovesheriff | August 19, 2010 12:27 PM | Report abuse

Another Ezra Klein pro-Obama propaganda piece. As someone above pointed out, every time theres a few stories in the media documenting the fact that Obama's popularity is going down the drain fast, Ezra trots out this same cut and paste article comparing Obama's popularity to past presidents. Basically saying none of it' his fault. He's a victim of circumstances. Please!! The guy is unpopular because the things he's focued on in his nearly two years in office, Obamacare, public union bailouts, car company union bailouts, etc. are not the things that interested the American people. The American people want jobs and they want the economy to start growing again. Not only has Obama and the Democrats not done anyting about the lousy economy their policies have made it worse. More regulation, more government bureacrats and still to come massive tax hikes. I certainly hope Democrats listen to Ezra and drink the Koolaid all the way down and run this fall on the Obama agenda. Their losses will be historic and we'll finally end this runious experimentation with one party rule.

Posted by: RobT1 | August 19, 2010 12:28 PM | Report abuse

The only things that would have made a difference are things that could have been done in the first few months that would have helped the economy not stagnate so much. A larger stimulus, a bit more aggressiveness on the Dems' part when they had 60 votes, more willingness to just go with their majority rather than pine for a few GOP votes. But they never thought the economy would get so bad and they never thought they would lose Ted Kennedy's seat.

But if the economy is 90% of it, and that seems to be the case, then all the pining after a few GOP votes was a fool's errand and kept the Dems from doing what little more they could have done that might have helped. There's a lot of conditionals in that sentence, but I think that is where things are.

Posted by: Mimikatz | August 19, 2010 12:34 PM | Report abuse

RobT1, Ezra shows a graph showing other presidents in similar points in their presidency with somewhat similar circumstances. You post up unsupported assertions.

President Obama was elected with huge approval ratings but has sunk back to Earth and is roughly where other similar presidencies were at this point. If he plummets below the historic average then you'll have a good point to make and good arguments. But going from being hugely popular to normal levels of popularity does not make you an unpopular president. It makes you popular at normal levels.

It's very likely that the Dems will lose seats in the midterms. Probably a lot of seats in the House. That prediction has been pretty well accepted for months, if not years. When you have a lot you have a lot to lose, and as we see, first-term presidents lose seats in their first midterms. History is on your side on this one.

Posted by: MosBen | August 19, 2010 12:41 PM | Report abuse

I think that the present is more important than the past for the Democrats' political fortunes and poll numbers. There is a growing impatience out there about what has happened to our economy. We have very high unemployment and sluggish growth, and the President appears resigned to very slow recovery. Without a major action plan to hasten the reduction of joblessness and accelerate growth, this sense of resignation ties Obama to the status quo in the current economy. And people don't like the status quo.

It is true that Obama can rightfully be compared to FDR in terms of the magnitude of the problem he inherited. But FDR gave us fireside chats and a constant stream of experiments designed to relieve suffering and bolster growth. Average people most hurt by the economy loved him and believed that he was on their side.

Even if many Americans now believe that we can't spend our way to recovery, and even if passage of further fiscal stimulus is a political non-starter with the numbers in the Senate, I think the Dems would do better in the polls if they were making substantial ongoing efforts to jump-start growth, and talking about the need to keep at the problem. Yes, lots of voters would be opposed to additional deficit spending, but many would support it, or at least give Obama credit for finding the status quo to be completely unacceptable, and they would tend to question the side trying to obstruct the efforts and preserve the status quo.

That's politically better than appearing as though the President has run out of strategies, and is just supporting small bore adjustments (like extensions of UI benefits and tiny state aid packages) and hoping that everything will now slowly get better on its own.

Posted by: Patrick_M | August 19, 2010 12:50 PM | Report abuse

The problem with the FDR comparison is timing. When FDR took office the Great Depression had been spiraling across the nation for nearly four years. The economy had truly bottomed out with 25% unemployment in the spring of 1933, when FDR was inaugurated. The Depression started shortly after the stock market crash in October 1929.

Obama, on the other hand, was inaugurated just a few months after the stock market crashed in October 2008 and the Great Recession started to kick in. There was nothing Obama could have done to prevent the economy from collapsing further in 2009. And the polling shows that while people still blame Bush for the recession, they are frustrated that Obama hasn't fixed it yet. If Obama had the "luxury" of taking office two or three years after the recession started - like FDR did - then he could both lead and cheerlead a recovery with results.

Posted by: ElrodinTennessee | August 19, 2010 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Boy do I remember the '82 elections, I worked for Ron Kaufman in the political division and it hurt. To Obama I can say (as a former repuglican activist) do the RIGHT thing, stay the course in encouraging Americans to see through the gloom and doom and see all that we have going for us. 90% are working... we are in that 2nd stage on incorporating computers into assisting us to solve pressing problems. It is all up from here with just a few more potholes on the highway.

Excellent post as usual Ezra. I enjoy your appearances on Charlie Rose.

Posted by: angriestdogintheworld1 | August 19, 2010 1:11 PM | Report abuse

At last an intelligent informed analysis of this matter.

Posted by: twm1 | August 19, 2010 1:48 PM | Report abuse

The biggest difference between the past cycles and the current one is the always on, 24/7 news. The constant barrage of news and pseudo-news and its impact on how public opinion is formed and shaped should be taken into consideration when making comparisons with the past. It would be surprising if phenomena like the Internet and cable news networks had zero impact.

Posted by: tuber | August 19, 2010 1:53 PM | Report abuse

I would be impressed by Obama if he could figure out how to help us get by on lower wages, so that our unskilled/low-skill labor market wouldn't be at such a comparative disadvantage to other countries.

One step would seem to be to make housing cheaper. We may be on the way there.

Forcing people into expensive health care plans, by making the minimum coverages on the exchanges and restricting employer plans would seem to make expenses far too high.

Devaluing the dollar would help a little as well, but is a dangerous game and would make imported goods much more expensive. However, assuming that there are sufficient unemployed people in this country that would be willing to work at minimum wage, it would work.

It would just take an influential President to point out that we are in a tight competition for jobs with other countries, and we need to beat them. To do that, we have to eliminate waste, drop salaries, and improve our skills so that we can have a better labor force. Instead, we are wasting our time trying to recreate the economy of 10 years ago, except this time with more debt, more risk, and fixed obligations.

Posted by: staticvars | August 19, 2010 2:09 PM | Report abuse

Does this article have a "JournoList" disclosure attached with it?

Posted by: theaz | August 19, 2010 2:09 PM | Report abuse

I think Ezra's data point of only 32 lost seats for the Democrats is a little out of date. From Charlie Cook: "With today’s ratings changes in 10 House districts, The Cook Political Report is now raising its House forecast from a Republican net gain of between 32 and 42 seats to a gain of between 35 and 45 seats, with the odds of an outcome larger than that range greater than the odds of a lesser outcome. A turnover of 39 seats would tip majority status into Republican hands." Misleading data from Ezra,the Journolist King, will not stop the tidal wave of disapproval that the American people are about to demonstrate in November.

Posted by: cummije5 | August 19, 2010 2:15 PM | Report abuse

Yup, you go on liberals, continue your fantasies...

His numbers are not that bad, in fact they're perfect!

See it takes someone as smart as the WUNDERKIND EZRA KLEIN to tell ignorant Americans that BARACK OBAMA and the DEMOCRATS LOVE the fact that Barry's disapproval hit 52% yesterday on Gallup.

It's an awesome sign that Obama's DISAPPROVAL IS TRENDING UP FOR THE LAST TWO WEEKS; and his whole Muslim Mosque flap has just started.



Posted by: TonyV1 | August 19, 2010 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Ezra, thank you for once again presenting a fact-based commentary--very refreshing.

TonyV1 and Theaz: Your postings are consistently full of snarkiness and snideness but light on substance. If you have substantive, thoughtful critiques to offer on Ezra's analysis, then by all means enlighten us. Otherwise, spare us--your comments are wastes of pixels and time.

Posted by: DCSteve1 | August 19, 2010 2:39 PM | Report abuse

Clinton, Reagan and Carter took office during a recession, Ezra?????????? By whose standards?

According to the National Bureau for Economic Research, which is the official source for the beginning and ending of recessions and expansions, the last president (prior to Obama) to actually take office during a recession was JFK.

Posted by: hawkeyes1 | August 19, 2010 2:39 PM | Report abuse

Ezra, thank you for once again presenting a fact-based commentary--very refreshing.

TonyV1 and Theaz: Your postings are consistently full of snarkiness and snideness but light on substance. If you have substantive, thoughtful critiques to offer on Ezra's analysis, then by all means enlighten us. Otherwise, spare us--your comments are wastes of pixels and time.

Posted by: DCSteve1 | August 19, 2010 2:40 PM | Report abuse

Nice cherry picking on the presidential comparison Ezra. After going to the Gallup site and looking at the REAL information, I can see why you omitted Bush 41 and 43. Your contortions are good for a laugh though... If only this... If only that... If if if...

Posted by: daveredhat | August 19, 2010 2:41 PM | Report abuse










Posted by: lookatthem | August 19, 2010 2:59 PM | Report abuse

With approximately the same number of anti Klein versus pro Klein rants on the blog, its abvious that Mr. Klein's overall analysis in indeed FAIR & BALANCED unlike those we usually get from FOX NEWS...

Having utilized the Gallup analytical tool, I must concur with his conclusions.

Posted by: Citi__Street | August 19, 2010 3:07 PM | Report abuse

Would like to hear:
1. Your view on the mathematical possibility of a Republican Senate in 2011 and
2. What the specific number of seats Dems can lose and still retain contol in the House.

Posted by: allan3 | August 19, 2010 3:13 PM | Report abuse

47% of Americans absolutely despise Obama and that number continues to climb every week.

Fewer than 20% are strong supporters of Obama and that number continues to slip every week as Barry betrays yet another group.

He is obviously the worst excuse for a president in American history.

Posted by: Jerzy | August 19, 2010 3:29 PM | Report abuse


hey way to stay above the fray.

I'd probably venture to guess that Michael Steele would disagree with your last remark.

Posted by: visionbrkr | August 19, 2010 3:36 PM | Report abuse

Ezra, So young, so green, so optimistic. With time comes wisdom and the less one needs to massage polls and calculations to support their favorites.
I think Obama's poor approval is a result of implementing policies not supported by a majority Americans. Simple.

Posted by: kalojohn | August 19, 2010 3:39 PM | Report abuse

oh Ezra, you little-bitty obamalosi groupie you!!

Posted by: jibe | August 19, 2010 3:45 PM | Report abuse

I'm with Jane G on this one. Krugman has always said that Obama was not the progressive we all dreamed he was. He dissected Obama's health care plan and made the strong case that Hillary's was the better plan. In reality she was the more progressive candidate, but I supported him because (1) I'm in Chicago, witnessed his progress firsthand and was inspired by it; and (2) I felt that the chaos in her campaign was a preview of how she would govern and basically dreaded that prospect. I thought he would have been more effective.

Now I'm not so certain. His biggest appointments in Washington were the inside the beltway types that had doomed the Democrats to mediocrity in the past. He gave up his biggest asset - the ability to lead through inspiration (Judis's point)- right out of the box. This was not an either/or proposition. It's not like he was too busy to inspire and lead. He consciously chose timidity. Start from the stimulus - why didn't he fire the aide (Summers) who hid Romer's advice? Why didn't Romer object that he didn't even hear her recommendations.

In January 2010, when he realized that Rahm's small ball recommendations on HCR were too pathetically watered down, the President stepped up forcefully and got a pretty decent result. Had he done that a year earlier, it might have even had the public option. The White House has left a vacuum that allowed the GOP to seize the conversation. Why are we talking about the mosque and amending the 14th amendment today and death panels yesterday. 95% of the population is going to be insured, without fear of preexisting conditions, and the Dems are still on the defensive?

Had he forcefully advanced the agenda he had campaigned on, rather than trying to preserve political capital, the Dems would not be in this quandary. Look at FDR's first midterms and Reagan's, which were not as bad as history would have predicted. The Dems would gladly take a 20 seat loss today. But both Reagan and FDR stuck to their principles - displaying leadership qualities that Obama has done only sporadically, legislative victories notwithstanding. Reagan compromised when he had to and his record is considerably more moderate than today's Republicans would have us believe, but no one questioned what Reagan stood for.

We all were expecting better from Obama. We delivered the electoral mandate and the President, constrained either by his nature or by his advisors, has not lived up to it.

Posted by: deanarms | August 19, 2010 3:45 PM | Report abuse

oh Ezra, you little-bitty obamalosi groupie you!!

Posted by: jibe | August 19, 2010 3:46 PM | Report abuse

And there is also the Real World that begins just beyond DC's boundries...

That world, is intensely angry; I well remember Jimmy Carter, Reagan, and certainly Cinton; This is nothing like that; And anyone that is not a 'progressive' totally bound up in 'progressive' utopia would know that.

You have a surprise coming on Nov 3, Mr. Klein; You won't like it. Please keep drinking the kool-aid and stay out of the adults way.

Posted by: wilsan | August 19, 2010 3:53 PM | Report abuse

lookatthem wrote:


Ahh, I love refreshing analyses such as this one. It supports my hope about what could happen in November--in a counter-intuitive way, of course!

Posted by: BillCarson2 | August 19, 2010 3:57 PM | Report abuse

This is encouraging, Mr. Klein, thank you for pointing out the rhythmic habits of the electorate.

That ought to add a natural boost to our disempowering of this Worst Administration Ever.

Posted by: Carol19 | August 19, 2010 4:01 PM | Report abuse

I just checked Gallups tracking poll today and obama is at 41. UNEMPLOYMENT trends continued shooting sharply upward for the 3 or 4th week in a row as the economy teeters on the edge of a 2nd dip recession, and Obama decided to get out of the Mosque firestorm he started by taking his family on a 10 day vacation to the land of the idle Elite Rich, Martha's Vinyard. Only 1 day for photo ops in that nasty Gulf, 10 days in the Vinyard! The rest of us have skipped vacation this year. We're afraid we'll be chosen to be laid off if we stop working 12-14 hours a day 6-7 days a week. None of the previous Presidents in a bad economy painted 70% of the American public as religious bigots while while 80 days out from a mid-term when UNEMPLOYMENT was shooting back up, but Obama is the Charmed One, right?

Posted by: valwayne | August 19, 2010 4:04 PM | Report abuse

"Recovery Summer" will go down in history along side Gerald Ford's "WIN" button as the most hilarious slogan ever uttered by a president.

Lets be honest, W's "Mission Accomplished" banner was probably more truthful than the "Recovery Summer" slogan.

Posted by: johnrtorres | August 19, 2010 4:04 PM | Report abuse

Since socialism (and all other forms of collectivism) do not work, have never worked and cannot work, the only real "if" worth considering is this: "if Obama were not Obama" or, more broadly, "if the president were not Obama".

In a couple years we'll entertain exactly that scenario. Let's see what happens.

Posted by: ocapitalista | August 19, 2010 4:04 PM | Report abuse

Ezra, Obama's approval ratings are not directly comparable to Carter, Reagan or Clinton as one reason Obama's ratings are as high as they are is because blacks still support him at such high levels. In the other examples, I don't recall such (88%) support among blacks as a group so Obama's ratings are higher than they otherwise would be were he not black.

Posted by: CraigsterTexas | August 19, 2010 4:05 PM | Report abuse

President Clinton did not enter office "amid a recession." The nine-month recession of 1990-1991 had long since ended. Look it up.

Posted by: UncaDarrell | August 19, 2010 4:30 PM | Report abuse

Oh my God! Now Matt Yglesias enters the fray, citing Ezra on his blog and explaining how he too sees no other way that Obama could have accomplished anything more than he actually accomplished. These guys make dishwater seem exciting by comparison with their patented Aim Low! rhetoric that they shovel out for us day after day. Really pathetic, and laughable too, if we weren't aware of how much misery here and abroad that this administration seems largely indifferent to.

Posted by: redscott | August 19, 2010 4:41 PM | Report abuse

Obama inherited a messy house and threw a two year hookers-and-blow party in it.

Posted by: EnvironMental | August 19, 2010 4:43 PM | Report abuse

Part of Obama's problem has been the very political way he has operated. FDRs Social Security and Reagan's tax cuts and other similar big programs passed with bi-partisan votes and popular support.

Obama has played partisan politics and tired to blame everything on the GOP, even though he was PART OF a Democratic majority in Congress in the two years leading up to the crash.

He needs to learn to stop pointing fingers and to start playing well with others.

Posted by: raincheck | August 19, 2010 4:51 PM | Report abuse

"Gallup's system will let me compare only four presidents at once, so I chose the last three presidents who entered office amid a recession and didn't have a country-unifying terrorist attack in their first year. That gives us Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter."

Gee- all this slobbering over Klein's "excellently researched" article, and yet he seems to have forgotten ALL ABOUT the first WTC bombing terrorist attack, which took place mere weeks after Clinton took office. Oh wait- that was a "law enforcement issue", that's right...

Typical liberal...doesn't even know an attack when they see one.

Posted by: cptsully | August 19, 2010 4:53 PM | Report abuse

You all FLUNKED the test.

Whistle along...(Wizard of Oz)....

If only Obama had

a brain...that actually understood America...not the liberal-elite, Martha-vineyard vacationing, "we know what's best for you" mentality
a heart...that actually loves America...libs, give your best shot...give me 5 examples where Obama has highlight America exceptionalism TO THE WORLD..good luck
a spine for courage...that actually had conviction for something other than appeasing those who hate America (cue Mosquegate)

Maybe the Wizard will come visit Martha's Vineyard in the next 2 weeks?

Posted by: golfwineski | August 19, 2010 5:03 PM | Report abuse

First of all, congress spends the money,not the President, at least according to my Constitution.

Didn't Clinton get elected on the recession,even though it ended?"It's the economy stupid I think was slogan!

Posted by: FRANGENNARELLI | August 19, 2010 5:04 PM | Report abuse

Fire Klein

Posted by: screwjob19 | August 19, 2010 5:12 PM | Report abuse

I flatly reject journolist Klein's notion that we can do an apples to apples comaprison of Reagan, Obama, Clinton, etc. The underlying point, ofcourse, is that liberals shouldn't worry--see--Clinton and Reagan got re-elected...Obama will come back, too. Nonsense. Obama has already damned himself to one term status (assuming the Republicans nominate someone decent--still a big risk) by defying the will of the people time and time again. He may be popular with the irrational Upper West Side and Park Slope crowds, but main stream Americans despise this guy. Rasmussen, the only reliable poll of LIKELY voters, has him close to 40%. He'll never see north of 45% with likely voters again, and that's death for a president seeking re-election.

Posted by: petmal1212 | August 19, 2010 5:19 PM | Report abuse

I have never seen the degree of rage against a president and his party that I see now against Imam Barak and the Democrats. I dont live in Tulsa either; I live in Los Angeles in Henry Waxman's district. Everything they have done and every position they've taken has come back to bite them. They are clearly seen as the greedy, special-interest pandering incompetents that they are. The giant bloated state with its overpaid, over pensioned employees, its beneficiaries who have a 'right' to their benefits, the incompetent corporate leaders who borrow money at 2% while they lend it out at 30% after they've been bailed out to the tune of billions. The whole rotten structure is teetering on the brink of collapse while the DC types in both parties talk about minor tweeks to this or that program to stave off the encroaching ruin. It aint gonna happen boys. The November election will place a significant number of legislators in Congress who are committed to stopping this madness. We'll see if they can make a difference but the Dems are going to be swamped.

Posted by: skep41 | August 19, 2010 5:24 PM | Report abuse

I flatly reject journolist Klein's notion that we can do an apples to apples comaprison of Reagan, Obama, Clinton, etc. The underlying point, ofcourse, is that liberals shouldn't worry--see--Clinton and Reagan got re-elected...Obama will come back, too. Nonsense. Obama has already damned himself to one term status (assuming the Republicans nominate someone decent--still a big risk) by defying the will of the people time and time again. He may be popular with the irrational Upper West Side and Park Slope crowds, but main stream Americans despise this guy. Rasmussen, the only reliable poll of LIKELY voters, has him close to 40%. He'll never see north of 45% with likely voters again, and that's death for a president seeking re-election.

Posted by: petmal1212 | August 19, 2010 5:24 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Klein,

It's disheartening to see that your writing remains apologetic and defensive of President Obama, that your articles are predictably partisan and neglectful of so much that should be discussed.

a. Why not consider an analysis of Bush and Obama, both of whom went against public will with the surge and health care -- so how does one know when to trust their own view versus the public, and when not? It may have been the result for Bush was positive, but his process and reasoning faulty -- or not. Teach us a principle from which we can learn.

b. Why not write an article on the five things you most respect and admire about Bush. Yes, I know you're laughing as you read this, but it's likely as you think about it, you'll come to see something you did not before, and your future writing and analysis will be all the better for it.

c. Why not try to craft in broad strokes how you would steer Social Security, Medicare, etc back to health. Do your own Paul Ryan. Gosh, at least he's trying!

d. My favorite however would be: what would have happened if public employees had never received the right to unionize 30 odd years ago. How would civic finances look now? What would our public education look like now if for the last 30 years we would have had the ability to fire a teacher for poor performance in the same way that a private firm could fire an employee.

Be bold and interesting, please.

Posted by: yaacovdeyo | August 19, 2010 5:28 PM | Report abuse

If you want to know one of the biggest reasons why his approval is so poor, and why his party will lose BIG in November, check out this local article: (Fact, not commentary).

Posted by: kgiven1 | August 19, 2010 5:33 PM | Report abuse

Any fans of basic math here?

The dashed line represents average approval among the last 12 presidents (and Mr. Obama is currently about 10 points below that average)

So Mr Klein is comparing him to 3 of the least popular presidents at this point in their presidency and he is still barely beating them.

He is doing so after beginning his presidency more than a point above the average. And the only events driving this decline are his policy choices. All other factors (as his supporters are so quick to point out) were firmly in place and known when he took office.

Mr Klein...narrowly besting 3 of the least popular presidents at this point in their presidency, at a position 10 points below the average of the last 12 presidents does NOT equal a "historically, slightly-better-than-average political position"

Cherry picking data does not equal reasoned analysis

Posted by: aphysicsguy | August 19, 2010 5:33 PM | Report abuse

If only Obama had not been a clueless stupid muslim n-word.

Posted by: Bulletinizer | August 19, 2010 5:51 PM | Report abuse

P.S. if only Ezra Klein had any credibility readers might consider his thoughts.

Posted by: Bulletinizer | August 19, 2010 5:53 PM | Report abuse

I truly do not understand media sycophants like Klein....but this helps...

MEDVED seem to make the most sense. IMO

Posted by: golfwineski | August 19, 2010 6:00 PM | Report abuse

There are two variables here that make this situation unlike prior Presidencies:

a) The media has entirely abdicated its responsibility to report facts, instead stoking the flames of disagreement to keep viewers interested.

b) Obama is black and has a foreign-sounding name, which matters to a whole lot of people unfortunately.

Take away these two things and we could get back to the facts:

1) The stock market is up tremendously since he took office. Obama made it clear he would take the steps necessary (e.g., stimulus & bailouts) to avoid a Depression. If that assurance goes away, all those gains could be reversed.

2) We passed historic healthcare and financial reform.

3) We are winding down in Iraq successfully.

Not bad for the first two years. The next big challenge for Obama is to do absolutely nothing and let the Bush tax cuts expire. If he can do that, he should get a special medal in advance from future generations.

Fox noise, which represents the 20% at the far right, unfortunately gives those fanatics a megaphone. Tax cuts no matter what, world-police level defense spending, and privatization of Medicare and Social Security...why is the media not exposing these crazies? That is the real story...

Posted by: Factified | August 19, 2010 6:02 PM | Report abuse

No amount of evidence, graphic or otherwise, will ever stop the trolls from trolling. These are the same people that believe that our president is a Mulim(so what if he were?) and that he, not Bush, enacted TARP, that Bush had absolutely nothing to do with the current economy, that Sara Palin has a worthier brain than Obama, and that facts are just nuisances trotted out to discredit their "truth." So, all your work is for naught if you wanted to convince anyone other than the ones who can think critically. Good jobs as a journalist though, and thank you for raising the discourse from he said/she said bobblism. The truth is, that nothing Obama has done or not done will make a whit of difference.

Posted by: wd1214 | August 19, 2010 6:08 PM | Report abuse

have some more kool-aid, my friend...

Posted by: lancesackless11 | August 19, 2010 6:10 PM | Report abuse

You know, it's not that I don't appreciate people offering criticism of Ezra, though I tend to agree with him on most matters. It's that so many of these anti-Ezra comments are soooooo stupid. Where's the wit gone?

Posted by: MosBen | August 19, 2010 6:13 PM | Report abuse

all that matters is the employment rate..."pebble in the shoe" analogy...

Reagan hit disapproval 50% in Jan 83...unemployment at >10%.

Obama at 53% disapprove. 43% strongly disapprove.

Do they teach economics at Chicago Law? I'm sure it's not capitalism anymore given Milton is gone...

Posted by: golfwineski | August 19, 2010 6:32 PM | Report abuse

EZRA KLEIN is the worst of the JounOlist hacks. He started this group to organize news suppression and lies to protect Obama.

If he was willing to lie before, he will lie again. Why read his articles if you can't trust him?

There are honest reporters who write from every political perspective. Why read a dishonest one?

Posted by: Xdem | August 19, 2010 6:41 PM | Report abuse

Reagan inherited a mess in Jan 1981, and set about making things right. Our economy is so big, then and now, that any change will take time. That is why he suffered major losses in 1982. But his plans eventually did work, hence the 520 or so electoral votes in 1984.

The difference this time is, the incumbent inherited a bad situation, and is doing absolutely everything to make it worse. He will suffer in 2010, and the rest of us will pay the price until at least 2014 or so.

Posted by: AZPhil | August 19, 2010 6:43 PM | Report abuse

What is really important is not Obama;s current poll number but how much he has dropped compared to Presidents. I would think his dramatic drop from media god to below normal human is important. Obama has taken the mess built by the Democrat controlled Congress beginning in 08 and because of other regulations passed under Carter and Clinton and made the mess wore. Bush spent a lot of money on recovery after the Clinton Tech bubble, 9/11, as well as hurricane relief, Homeland Security and a WAR ON TERROR on 2 fronts. Obama has spent the money of the auto bailouts and stimulus on bribing unions. His healthcare bill will not reduce costs only payments and servicies. So Obama is a failure and his popularity drop shows. The left wing media continues to pump him and that is the only reason his polls are as high as they are. THey elected him and they can't be shown to be wrong. There is no investigative reporting as is shown by this article.

Posted by: jschmidt2 | August 19, 2010 6:44 PM | Report abuse

This is hilarious.
This clown claims that Clinton came in to office during a recession, when in reality, the expansion that we enjoyed throughout the 90's began in March '91.
That expansion lasted exactly ten years,
In fact, Clinton left Bush with a recession that lasted eight of his first ten months in office, thanks to the dot com bubble collapse.

How can you people sleep at night, Ezra?
You are professional liars.
Let that sink in..
You are paid to be dishonest.
You earn a living, by being the kind of person that decent people teach their children not to be.

You're not just naive.
You are a willing...even eager, liar.

Posted by: MrMeaner | August 19, 2010 7:35 PM | Report abuse

Please take it easy on Ezra. Remember that he is only about 18 years old.

Posted by: Roark_ | August 19, 2010 7:40 PM | Report abuse

It's not what he's done, but how he does it.

I keep hearing the president did "X" because he "didn't have the votes" to do "Y".

Other presidents didn't have the votes either, but used the power of the presidency to bully, weedle, and embarass opponents until they got the votes.

Obama doesn't seem to have it in him to play full on hardball. He may take an occasional shot, usually as a last resort, but rather than stay on message, the fight evaporates as quickly as it appears, and the President goes back to his role as Policy Wonk-In-Chief.

A good example is the current small business bill. The President finally came out today with some "fighting words", something he should have done a week or month ago. In all likelihood he'll take one more less vehement shot in a day or two and then he'll put the fate of the bill completely in the overworked hands of Harry Reid and move on to another issue.

Obama in capsule: decent policy, lousy leadership.

Posted by: lithium452 | August 19, 2010 7:42 PM | Report abuse

Ezra Klein: "There is a terrible and ongoing economic slump....that is causing Americans immense pain and suffering."

Could other economic policies have produced better results on the economy than the policies Obama pursued?

If Obama had asked Congress for a bigger stimulus package instead of insisting on health care reform in his first year, maybe the U.S. economy would be doing better.

Obama's supporters used to compare him to FDR. But they forgot that for FDR's first two years in office, he focused on putting Americans back to work. Social Security wasn't enacted till FDR's second term.

Posted by: sinz52 | August 19, 2010 8:15 PM | Report abuse

Rally the journalista!!!!! We need need the peach fuzzed writer to coordinate a message with the other journalistas. Rally behind Obama and the democrats.

Posted by: silenttype | August 19, 2010 8:17 PM | Report abuse

Analysis and graphs from the famous JounoList....

Why does the WaPo keep publishing this crap?

Posted by: TECWRITE | August 19, 2010 8:20 PM | Report abuse

The author of this article misses the point. The reason Obama and the Corruptocrats are in Big Trouble is simply this: The public doesn't like what it's being fed. You can mix horse-pucky any way you like and with any legitimate food, but it's still horse-pucky. The legislation promoted by this president is a hard left to a European form of government. The American people reject this president and this legislation and the polls will reflect that in November.

Posted by: KevinMN | August 19, 2010 8:39 PM | Report abuse

The link to Sabato's "current" projection is from July 8. Do you folks think Sabato will project a rather different House result -- perhaps a flip -- if he projects again within, say, 2 weeks?

Posted by: hwinva | August 19, 2010 8:41 PM | Report abuse

Ezra, you should be able to analyze the polls as well as any middle class voter, but you launch a vague, deep background style, hypothesis supporting Obama.

Try another Journolist initiative limited to liberal pundits...this narrative strikes normal common sense people as unreal and stilted. But the out of touch are the last to know. Too bad you're outvoted 100 to 1, isn't it?

Posted by: Multikultur | August 19, 2010 9:00 PM | Report abuse

How about comparing the performance of "community organizers" with no experience at all in times of deep recession?

Posted by: ppasq | August 19, 2010 9:06 PM | Report abuse

The democrat battle cry, "Things could be worse". Obama is heading for Jimmy Carter type approval ratings.
Ezra, is this the best your journolist spin machine can come up with?

Posted by: RayGun_1 | August 19, 2010 9:20 PM | Report abuse

The democrat battle cry, "Things could be worse". Obama is heading for Jimmy Carter type approval ratings.
Ezra, is this the best your journolist spin machine can come up with?

Posted by: RayGun_1 | August 19, 2010 9:22 PM | Report abuse

If Obama hadn't vacationed in Martha's Vineyard, the 9-11 Mosque would have been built out of steel from the World Trade Center. If Nancy Pelosi hadn't had Botox injected the night before she picked up that big gavel, Barney Frank would have farted Obama out sooner and the whole meltdown would have been avoided. If Monica Lewinsky had dodged the facial, Al Gore would have stopped Glomal Warbling. Thank God for Democrats - they prevent more worse things from happening than their propagandists can even imagine.

Posted by: doctorfixit | August 19, 2010 9:39 PM | Report abuse

ezra, you discredited journolist hack, how bout taking a long vacation. the readers of the WaPo, your bosses, nearly every human being on the face of the earth will be better off. Excepting the people you're on vacation with, of course. Poor bastards....

Posted by: subframer | August 19, 2010 9:39 PM | Report abuse

Klein, you journ-o-list lying hack, why do you still have a job? Hey, I'm not a racist..just preempting the standard libtard knee jerk defence that you reccomend on your journ-o-list lie-blog. Obama is a dimsmal failure, which is why the Dems will loose in Nov and He will be sent packing in 2012. Liberal Democrat....err... Socialist policies don't work as Socialist countries fail 100%..but you blind, tone deaf, morons think you can make it work. That is why you fail.

Posted by: isnrblog | August 19, 2010 10:25 PM | Report abuse

EK, in the light of the eternity of the end, you are going to look back and say, to your self, alone, my life was spent in a way to prepare me for deathless life. "Now, this is a bit of an imperfect comparison...."

Posted by: porcorosso | August 19, 2010 10:33 PM | Report abuse

The only poll that counts is the one taken November second!

Posted by: 2012frank | August 19, 2010 10:56 PM | Report abuse

Jobs and spending. Obama and the dems are on the wrong side of both of these issues. Two torpedoes of Obama's own making, circling around to take down the democratic party in a historic bang.

Many months ago, Obama held a jobs summit and didn't even invite any of the major business associations to participate.

He did invite a bunch of union leaders and a couple of corporate cheerleaders.

This gave the appearance of a leftist contempt for the business world.

You know, that place that actually creates wealth and jobs and supplies the taxes that fund all of those leftist dreams.

I remember a lot of nitwits talking about "the end of capitalism" right after the housing bubble popped.

Funny how ALL of the Western social democracies have been downsizing the socialist parts of their economies since that fateful day - while Obama and the dems have been growing ours like mad.

Suicide is dangerous - so is national insolvency (bankruptcy).

A lack of focus on small business and job creation just speeds in the day of reckoning.

Posted by: Parker1227 | August 19, 2010 11:24 PM | Report abuse

It's as if Klein is wishing for a devastating sneak attack on America (on the scale of Pearl Harbor or the Twin Towers) to make us all like Obama again. The difference between Reagan and Obama is that Reagan had a vision of excellence for America, whereas Obama's vision - like Carter- is that of the obsolesence of the great nation. Obama is already a lame duck president. Good riddance!

Posted by: prospector | August 20, 2010 12:10 AM | Report abuse

It's as if Klein is wishing for a devastating sneak attack on America (on the scale of Pearl Harbor or the Twin Towers) to make us all like Obama again. The difference between Reagan and Obama is that Reagan had a vision of excellence for America, whereas Obama's vision - like Carter- is that of the obsolesence of the great nation. Obama is already a lame duck president. Good riddance!

Posted by: prospector | August 20, 2010 12:11 AM | Report abuse

It is truly amazing to see the denial on the left right now. I know that denial, remember the 2006 and 2008 elections?

Only this time it will be worse.

The depth of dishonesty has never been so bad. The corruption just reeks from every Democrat who opens their mouths... and lines their pockets.

Obama has been very good for the country in the long run.

We are not likely to see liberal-progressive-socialist rule again for decades after this fiasco.

Bravo, Mr. Obama you reminded Americans of who they are! And now let us rid ourselves of the tyranny of socialism and get back to truly just society. Where merit is rewarded rather than punished.

Mr. Klein,most everything you think you know is a lie. Just open up your eyes and see.

Posted by: Mypostid7 | August 20, 2010 3:11 AM | Report abuse

Oh and Mr. Klien your charts are bull.

Obama has had exactly one job, while all those other guys had so many many issues to deal with.

Obama's one job was producing a recovery. But he couldn't put his partisanship aside long enough to do it.

And please how many many many vacations has he taken this year alone?

You would think he could put in a full week of work once a month. But he knows he's only got it this good for a couple more years so he is living the high life.

Obama is lazy and dumb. There is one promise he kept. It sure is a change from past hard working Presidents.

Posted by: Mypostid7 | August 20, 2010 3:26 AM | Report abuse

If Only Obama had been better known by the voters because JournoLists writers had done their job of exposing him, as opposed to covering for him...then he would not be President and we would not be in this sorry state.

If only JournoLists writers had not decided to attack Hillary and Palin, then we would see them as they are rather than the character they were turned into by prejudiced JournoList writers.

If only Obama wanted to be a President rather than get out his childhood anger on the entire country as the President, we might be experiencing less unemployment, better jobs, and a healthy economy.

If only more people would learn to dig deep into researching where the Journolist writers fail to go...Obama would not have been President and able to confiscate money from future generations to throw away just like he threw away money in Chicago.

At this point, we have to vote for anyone, regardless of background, who will vote against Obama because it is just that bad.

Posted by: letscheck | August 20, 2010 3:49 AM | Report abuse

Slurp, slurp, slurp, slurp.

Ezra, my friend, there really ARE better ways to get more protein in your diet.

Posted by: etpietro | August 20, 2010 10:03 AM | Report abuse

Ezra, So young, so green, so optimistic. With time comes wisdom and the less one needs to massage polls and calculations to support their favorites.
I think Obama's poor approval is a result of implementing policies not supported by a majority Americans. Simple.

Posted by: kalojohn | August 19, 2010 3:39 PM |

EZRA KLEIN should be fired from the POST.... he is corrupt flamming liberal/progressive JOURNOLISTS who appears on the Keith Adolf Olbermann ATTACK show, often.

Newsweek............ POST......... all dirty liberal/progressive political propagada outlets.........sad, but TRUE

Posted by: ridgebtk | August 20, 2010 11:40 AM | Report abuse

Just because someone's an apologist, doesn't make them wrong, it just means they have to be evaluated in a different light.

Posted by: FreeTibetNow | August 20, 2010 12:59 PM | Report abuse

Just because someone's an apologist doesn't mean their wrong. It just means they need to be evaluated in a different light,

I have to agree with Jay Cost that return of the "Party Press" is vastly superior to the mythical notion of high-minded dispationate objectivity.

I just wish we could all stop pretending that judges and reporters are impartial. Seize the moment, cast off that boring tired "reporter" moniker and embrace who you really are:
Ezra Klein, Sr. Presidential Apologist, Washington Post

It's not like your going to have to declare your articles as campaign donations in the next election cycle.

Posted by: FreeTibetNow | August 20, 2010 1:08 PM | Report abuse

If only BP could develop a containment cap for Obamas mouth!


Posted by: clermontpc | August 20, 2010 10:15 PM | Report abuse

No. Actually his problem is taht he is a marxist.

Posted by: vintax1 | August 21, 2010 6:47 PM | Report abuse

Obama has three main problems: 1) the majority of this center-right country has ALWAYS opposed his policies (this fact was obscured by the unique dynamics of his election); 2) people used to like him, but the more they get to know him and his grifter wife, the less they like him; and 3) his economic policies - like FDR's - are such a dog's breakfast of contradictory incentives (raise taxes, pass job-killing laws but try to offset with massive, but temporary, spending) that they are destined to fail.

ALL of his major initiatives: fin-reg, healthcare, and stimulus - either have failed or will fail. While the Dems, and their fellow travelers on journolist, will try to crank up the smoke machine this fall, most voters now understand this.

Check out 45% of the country now STRONGLY disapproves of Obama while only 25% STRONGLY approve. Many of that 25%- kids and minorities specifically - won't vote in the same numbers that they did in 2008.

Posted by: JohnBoy3 | August 22, 2010 9:15 AM | Report abuse

It's comical watching liberals lucubrate upon their dire political situation. Here's my take: Democrats are dying by the sword. Clinton, who is largely responsible for this economic mess for having gutted responsible lending practices (you could look it up-- start with Roberta Achtenburg), never tired of telling us that he, a man who never ran a business, was responsible for the economic good times that accompanied the final six years of his presidency. Also, Democrats have always blamed Republican presidents for bad economic times. Now they have a president presiding over very bad economic times and he doesn't seem to have ANY answers. The Congress spending money at an unprecedented rate and Americans are beginning to think that government is, as Reagan was fond of saying, THE PROBLEM.

I hear more and more knowledgeable people saying that this recession is going to last at least five more years if something historically momentous doesn't happen. It may even last that long regardless of what happens. People have lost confidence in the economic system and government's ability to regulate fairly, effectively and with a light touch. I am referring to government at ALL levels. (I live in California where governments have completely discredited themselves at every level.)

A start to turning around the economy would be to elect a better Republican Congress than the last one and a Republican President who can restore confidence in those who run the economy, which is probably 25% of the population, i.e. that part of the population that hires, builds, produces, maintains, serves, and creates the revenue stream that runs government at all levels. Until you restore their confidence, it's going to be a slow bleed.

Posted by: theduke89 | August 22, 2010 11:27 AM | Report abuse

All very well, but your "slightly-better-than-average" conclusion depends on Larry Sabato's prediction of a 32 seat loss coming true. You can get 2 to 1 on Intrade betting that the loss will be at least 40, and I'm expecting better than 50. What price your conclusion then?

I think much of the responsibility is Obama's, and specifically his tendency to overpromise in ways that can be easily remembered: by the left ("close Guantanamo") by the Independents ("post-partisan"), and by anybody who can count ("cut costs by expanding coverage").

So the left will stay home, the independents will vote the other way, and I'll contribute to anyone with a fighting chance to swing a seat.

Posted by: bobroyfills | August 22, 2010 9:43 PM | Report abuse

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