Just got this ABC News/ Washington Post poll in my inbox. "Increasingly disenchanted with President Obama’s work on the stalled economy, registered voters by an 8-point margin say they’d prefer to see the Republicans take control of Congress – the clearest sign yet of GOP opportunities and Democratic risks in the 2010 midterm elections."
Let's put those numbers into proper context, because I know that the ideologically fixed organizations and talking (shit)heads like Monica Crowley will not. The President's overall approval rating is 50-47 percent; but "strong" approvers trail strong disapprovers by 28 percent to 35 percent. Which leads me to think: 1) Those numbers should be viewed in the context that this is, as Alan Greenspan recently called it, "the greatest global economic catastrophe in the history of the world." Or, if you are more conservative in your language, at the very least we are in the midst of the greatest American economic challenge since the Great Depression.
This is also America's most serious bout of long-term joblessness since the Great Depression. Official unemployment is at 9.5 percent; unofficial unemployment and underemployment is significantly higher. Unemployment in Nevada is near 15%. The long-term unemployed -- the 99ers in policyspeak-- are a matter of growing concern. In November 2009, African-American unemployment reached almost 16 percent, compared with the national average of 10 percent. The unemployment rate among people 16 to 24 years old is nearly double the rate for all workers. Finally, according to a recent report from the Center for Responsible Lending, nearly 6 million homes are at imminent risk of foreclosure.
2) We are also in the middle of quite possibly the greatest ecological challenge in recent memory -- the greatest in the history of the United States.
Neither of these problems are directly Barack Obama's fault, but History -- for whatever reason -- has placed those weighty burdens on this President's doorstep. Keeping those things in mind, it seems rather remarkable that the margin of voters seeking a change in Congressional control is only 8 percent. That the number of Americans who are confident in Obama to make the right decisions for the country's future has dropped by 18 points in the first year and a half of his presidency ought to be asterisked. And the asterisk should note immediately thereafter the present economic conditions under which this President labors.
Another interesting finding in the poll, a propos of nothing:
Forty percent of Americans in this survey identify themselves as independents, among the most in 29 years of ABC/Post polls (and roughly this high steadily since spring 2009). The past year has been one of the few periods in which the number of independents has surpassed both Democratic (now 31 percent) and Republican (24 percent) self-identification.
Actually, that is a good thing. Elegant, even. Both parties under the Houses of Bush (41, 43) and the House of Clinton are responsible for the policies that led us to the brink of economic collapse. Not Barack Obama (though historians of the future may note that Obama's appointing the Clinton economic team to oversee the Great Healing may accelerate the damage). The two-party system, quite frankly, is broken, increasingly under the sway of the wingnuts. I prefer the more soberly-minded Centrists, who are skeptical -- although not entirely inflexible -- on the subject of "big government."