Another Bad Jobs Report Brings More Election Difficulties For The President

July 11, 2012, 2:00 PM GMT+0

(Week of 7/7/2012) The latest jobs report, showing that unemployment continues to hover above 8%, has given greater fodder for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s attacks on President Obama’s economic leadership. The latest Economist/YouGov poll suggests Americans are receptive to Romney’s claims about the President’s economic stewardship. According to the poll, Obama holds no advantage over his GOP challenger on managing the economy.

In fact, Americans are nearly as likely to say that the economy will get better in the next four years if Romney is elected this fall as they are to say it will improve under the incumbent. And expectations that things will get worse are higher in a second Obama Administration than in one headed by the Republican.

Only 33% approve of how the President is currently handling the economy, while 57% disapprove. Last week, 37% approved.

These low marks on what Americans view as the country’s most important problem may make it increasingly difficult for the President to compete against his challenger. This week, the race remains extremely close. And the Republican now has a small lead when registered voters are asked about their intended vote in the upcoming presidential election: 44% choose Romney, 43% select the President.

As time goes on, the President is increasingly becoming the focus of blame for the state of the economy. After the previous poor jobs report in early June, more Americans held George W. Bush, President Obama’s predecessor, responsible for the current state of the economy than put the blame on Mr. Obama himself. But this week, that gap has narrowed dramatically. 45% say Barack Obama has either a great deal or a lot of responsibility for the current state of the economy, while 51% say that about President Bush. That six-point difference was 14 points just two months ago, and only ten points in early June.

If there is consolation for the President, it is that Americans assign less blame for the poor state of the economy to him than they do to Wall Street bankers (65%), congressional Republicans (53%), congressional Democrats (48%), and ordinary consumers who borrowed too much money (49%).

And the condition of the U.S. economy remains very negative for many. Although assessments of the economy improved in the early part of this year, over four in ten now say the economy is getting worse, just as they did after last month’s poor jobs report.