Laska on the National Mood

Congress is on spring break through the end of the week, having balanced our budget, ended partisan bickering once and for all and forged compromise to solve all of our Nation’s problems.

Okay, only the part about “spring break” is true.

But with Congress out of the way and a quarter of 2013 already in the books, it’s a good time to take a look at the mood of our Nation. And with spring finally in the air, you might think that the national mood is ticking up. You’d be wrong.

According to Marist, a full 60% of Americans believe the country is moving in the wrong direction, up from 55% in December.

The Gallup Economic Confidence Index has Americans’ confidence in the economy also at a low point since December. (Interestingly enough, Democrats have a more favorable view of the economy than do Republicans.)

According to the Marist poll, the percentage of Americans who believe that their personal family financial situation will worsen this year has risen sharply from last year. 26% believe that their finances are getting worse, up from just 14% a year ago. The percentage of Americans who believe that their financial situation is improving has fallen from 34% a year ago to 26% today. 48% of Americans believe that their finances will remain the same, down from 55% a year ago.

Gallup also releases a daily Well-being Index (who knew?), which tracks the percentage of Americans who evaluate their own lives as “thriving,” “struggling” or “suffering.” According to the latest numbers, 50% of Americans are thriving, 46% are struggling and 4% are suffering. Those are down from the end of January, when 55% were thriving and 42% were struggling (the number of suffering Americans has thankfully held steady at 4%). 62% of Americans report that they are generally happy, down from 66% in January.
So what does this all mean for the President?

President Obama’s approval rating has fallen to 45% according to Marist. It’s not a terrible mark for a second-term President, but it’s his lowest approval rating in the Marist Poll in sixteen months. Currently, more registered voters nationally disapprove of the president’s job performance – 48% — than approve. This is the first time Obama’s approval rating has been upside down since November 2011 when 50% believed he fell short, and 43% gave the president high marks.

For comparison’s sake, Gallup has both the President’s approval and disapproval ratings at 47%. The last time Gallup had his approval rating this low and his disapproval rating this high was in the immediate aftermath of the debacle of his first debate with Mitt Romney.

The calendar says its springtime, but there’s still a winter chill in the air. As winter lags, so too does America’s economic malaise.

Eventually though, the temperature will rise and the flowers will bloom. If the economy doesn’t, it’ll mean more bad news for the President. His approval numbers are already trending downward, and if Americans’ moods continue to sour, it could spell disaster for Obama in the 2014 midterm elections.