Americans Continue to Blame Bush More Than Obama for Economy

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Just minutes after posting perspectives about what the massive drop in median American families’ net worth during the recession might mean in November, we spotted this new Gallup poll that asks Americans who is more responsible for the bad economy: President Bush or President Obama. The majority of Americans still blame President Bush for the country’s economic problems by roughly the same margin as they did last September.

How much are President Bush and President Obama to blame for the bad economy? chart; Credit: Gallup Poll

Gallup first asked the blame question six months into Obama’s presidency in July 2009. At that time, 80 percent of Americans gave President Bush a “great deal or moderate amount” of the blame compared with 32 percent who gave the same level of blame to President Obama. Since then, President Obama’s blame percentage rose to about 50 percent in March 2010 and President Bush’s fell to about 70 percent in August 2010, and the “relative amount of blame” has “largely stabilized over the past two years.”

One interesting data point is that Republicans’ blame is more “ecumenical” than Democrats. While 90 percent of Democrats think President Bush is to blame for the economy (with only 19 percent blaming President Obama), 83 percent of Republicans blame Obama “a great deal or moderate amount” and 49 percent ascribe the same amount of blame to Bush.

Chart: Blame for U.S. Economic Problems - By Party ID; Creidt: Gallup Poll

One key finding upon which many pundits will focus:

Independents are substantially more likely to blame Bush (67%) than to blame Obama (51%) for the nation’s economic problems, a finding that no doubt provides some comfort to the Obama re-election campaign. And fewer independents blame Obama now than did so last September (60%).

At the same time, “Americans continue to have more negative than positive views of the current economy and the direction in which it is headed, which generally does not bode well for Obama.” But if the election does turn out to be a referendum on which president’s policies put the country in our current economic straits, these poll numbers may mean that the Obama campaign’s message — that the economy is on the right track and President Obama just needs more time to turn things around — could “fall on receptive ears, particularly those of independents” in November.

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