As a result, says Lake, voters also want to see policymakers doing everything they can, at every possible juncture, to fix the jobs situation.
But right now, there appears to be less "doing" and more squabbling. Ideas for economic growth abound in Washington, but stalemate seems inevitable. The jobs plan that congressional Republicans unveiled last week contains proposals that are nonstarters for many Democrats, like corporate tax reform and reduced EPA regulations. Meanwhile, many Democrat job-creation ideas, like infrastructure spending, are anathema to Republicans. A meeting on the debt ceiling yesterday between the president and congressional Republicans was a reminder that a difficult compromise will have to be struck before any change in policy can occur. [Check out a roundup of political cartoons on the economy.]
"The discussion really focused on the philosophical difference on whether Washington should continue to pump money into the economy or we should provide an incentive for entrepreneurs and small businesses to grow," said Eric Cantor, the House Majority Leader, after the meeting, which appears to not have bridged the gap between the two sides.
Such deadlock only increases public resentment, says Lake: "I think the insensitivity to real people's experience is angering the public quite a bit. And none of our elected officials seem to get it." And, fairly or not, Obama will ultimately absorb much of the blame, says McHenry. "People may get on an intellectual level that the president can't change economic policy on his own, [that] he doesn't set tax policy in isolation," he says. "Ultimately, the voters have one recourse, and that's to vote out the person that's in while they are discontent with their situations."
So while Friday's unemployment rate may inspire hand-wringing inside the Beltway, it could also stoke more extreme feelings in the more than 13.7 million unemployed Americans. But even a drop in the jobless rate would likely not alleviate the pinch that the jobless are feeling.