Your Friendly Reminder That Voters Still Blame Bush For The Economy

by evanmcmurry

Will Saletan continues his lark/thought experiment of coming up with reasons to support Mitt Romney with a seven part breakdown of Romney’s post-convention strategy. Here’s the money part:

The numbers are familiar and will be vigorously debated. Romney will focus on the unemployment rate; Obama will focus on the number of new jobs created. But the key phrase tying it all together for Romney is Obama economy. Those two words, repeatedly paired, will burden the president with perceived responsibility for the weak economy, regardless of the extent to which he (as opposed to President Bush, Wall Street, Europe, congressional Republicans, or other factors) is at fault.

Saletan is careful to say perceived responsibility, as anybody with two eyes who’s been alive for the past five years know the current economic malaise has little to do with our current president. I’m not making that up: voters simply have not switched blame for the current economy to Obama, and that includes the respondents of the most recent poll taken this week by Washington Post/ABC News. Poll respondents don’t approve, by a majority, of Obama’s handling of the economy, but that opinion seems heavily mediated by their understanding that Obama inherited an awful hand. For all the giant crop of articles being written about how Obama maintains his electoral advantage despite the 8.3% unemployment rate, you would think this fact would get mentioned more: voters still blame Bush for the economy.* The idea that a slew of Romney ads will change their minds when three-plus years of Republican efforts have failed to do so seems specious.

The economy is certainly paramount to any discussion of Romney’s electoral strategy. But the idea that voters will hold Obama responsible seems to be getting taken for granted in that discussion, when there’s not a lot of evidence to support it. I understand why the Republican National Convention avoided any mention of Bush; but I don’t see why the rest of us should.

* If you stand upside down during a harvest moon, you might see them blame a third party. Lemme explain.