There's an important nugget of information buried in the new Washington Post/ABC News poll that should concern President Obama.
It's that Americans are still gloomy about the economy even though there has been some positive news lately, such as a decline in the national unemployment rate and a strong showing by the stock market. Fifty-nine percent of Americans say that, based on their own experience, the economy has begun to rebound but at the same time nearly 80 percent of Americans say that, overall, the economy remains in recession.
Half of Americans blame George W. Bush, Obama's predecessor, for the economy's ongoing problems, and nearly 40 percent blame Obama, little changed during the past year. But 55 percent disapprove of Obama's current handling of the economy, about the same number as a month ago. The same number – 55 percent – disapprove of Obama's overall job performance and only 43 percent approve.
Democratic pollster Geoff Garin says Americans have found ways to manage economic problems in their own lives, but many are less confident of government's ability to help them. "People see lots of problems around them," Garin told me, "but they tend to express more satisfaction with their own lives, which suggests to me that people feel they are able to find ways to cope independent of what's going on in government and what's going on in the broader economy."
This could mean that Obama will have minimal impact when he tries to persuade people that government should do more. And the disastrous rollout of his health care website under the Affordable Care Act, his signature initiative, in the past several weeks has probably caused more people to be skeptical about government's efficiency and effectiveness.
Ken Walsh covers the White House and politics for U.S. News. He writes the daily blog "Ken Walsh's Washington" for usnews.com and "The Presidency" column for the U.S. News Weekly. He is the author of the new book "Prisoners of the White House: The Isolation of America's Presidents and the Crisis of Leadership." Ken Walsh can be reached at email@example.com and on Facebook and Twitter.