New Polls Show Public More Optimistic About Economy

BY Christina Bellantoni and Terence Burlij  May 15, 2012 at 9:21 AM EST

President Obama; photo by Timothy A. Clark/AFP/GettyImages

President Obama arrives at Barnard College’s graduation ceremony on Monday to deliver the commencement address. Photo by Timothy A. Clark/AFP/Getty Images. Watch the video here.

The Morning Line

If polls are just a snapshot in time, then the picture at the moment reveals a growing sense of optimism among voters about the country’s economic future.

The latest CBS News/New York Times survey found that 36 percent of voters said the economy was getting better, compared with 24 percent who responded it was getting worse. Thirty-nine percent of respondents said the economy was staying about the same.

The USA Today/Gallup poll showed that while Americans have a gloomy view of current economic conditions — an overwhelming 71 percent rate them as poor — nearly six in ten believe that things will improve in the coming year.

And there is more, writes Suan Page: “While those surveyed are inclined to say they are worse off financially than a year ago, nearly two-thirds say they think they’ll be better off this time next year.”

If the sense that the economy is headed in the right direction continues to spread, President Obama’s chances at a second term will likely strengthen. But even as the economic picture brightens, there are still numbers in the polls that suggest a tough battle ahead for the president.

The USA Today/Gallup survey found that 55 percent of Americans believed the economy would improve over the next four years if Mitt Romney were elected, compared with 46 percent who said the same would happen if Mr. Obama were re-elected.

The Romney campaign released a web video Tuesday featuring three Iowans who are struggling “in the Obama economy,” calling them “a few of the 23 million” Americans who are out of work, underemployed or have stopped looking for work.

You can watch the four-minute video here.

In addition to his standing on economic issues, Romney’s favorable-unfavorable rating had climbed to 50-41, his best marks ever in the USA Today/Gallup poll. That contrasts with the CBS/Times survey, which still had Romney upside-down with a favorable mark of 31 percent compared with 38 percent unfavorable. Nearly 20 percent said they were undecided and another 12 percent said they hadn’t heard enough about the former Massachusetts governor.

In a pure head-to-head matchup, the CBS/Times poll gave Romney a 46 percent to 43 percent lead over the president, but the advantage was within the poll’s plus-minus 4 percent margin of error.

WALL STREET POLITICS

The fallout from the JPMorgan Chase trading mistake has sent reverberations through Washington, with the president weighing in on the matter Monday during a taped appearance on ABC’s “The View.”

“JPMorgan is one of the best managed banks there is. Jamie Dimon, the head of it, is one of the smartest bankers we got ,and they still lost $2 billion and counting,” President Obama said. “We don’t know all the details. It’s going to be investigated but this is why we passed Wall street Reform.”

Mr. Obama continued to press the case for full implementation of financial reform rules, which he said the industry is still fighting.

“This is one of the best managed banks. You could have a bank that isn’t as strong, isn’t as profitable managing those same bets and we might have had to step in. That’s why Wall Street reform is so important,” he said.

As the JPMorgan news dominated the day, Judy Woodruff got the views of two senators with very different takes on regulation, and in particular the Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation.

Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., who leads the subcommittee that investigated the financial collapse, said that repealing the law would be “the absolute worst outcome we could have here.”

The veteran Michigan lawmaker said that if Congress wants to avoid a situation like 2008 from happening again “we better fully implement the language that is in this bill, not water it down under pressure of Wall Street.”

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said that in any bill 2,400 pages long there will be “some redeeming features,” but he argued that financial reform law has had a devastating impact on community banks and needs to be fixed.

“This was built around Wall Street but the negative effect is really on the community banks all across our nation that are in small communities that help cause them to have economic growth. So there’s no doubt there’s a lot of changes that need to happen in the bill,” Corker said.

Watch the segment here or below.

PAUL ENDS CAMPAIGN, SORT OF

Texas Rep. Ron Paul effectively ended his presidential campaign Monday, telling supporters he would stop spending in primary states and that his goal now is to “carry a strong message to the Republican National Convention that Liberty is the way of the future.”

The late afternoon statement included a pledge to “continue to work in the state convention process” and win delegates.

“Moving forward, however, we will no longer spend resources campaigning in primaries in states that have not yet voted. Doing so with any hope of success would take many tens of millions of dollars we simply do not have,” he said.

Paul followed up with an email to his supporters Monday night asking they “remain deeply involved — become delegates, win office, and take leadership positions.”

“I will be right there with you,” he wrote. “In the coming days, my campaign leadership will lay out to you our delegate strategy and what you can do to help, so please stay tuned.”

While Paul may not still solicit votes, his supporters seem as zealous and hopeful as ever for a say at the Republican National Convention. BuzzFeed rounded up the reaction from Paul supporters across online message boards, and Marin Cogan of GQ’s Death Race 2012 dug into the Paul forums and emerged with a portrait of supporters’ grief and/or denial.

Roll Call’s Jonathan Strong writes the latest chapter in the saga over Paul’s airline tickets. Strong, who has closely followed the issue after breaking the news this winter, writes that a libertarian organization “that paid for plane tickets and other expenses” for Paul is saying that the congressman “defrauded the group for about $20,000″ and is “exploring legal remedies.”

From Strong’s story:

The Liberty Committee, a nonprofit headed by former Paul aide David James, said in an April 16 letter that about two-thirds of the 63 airline tickets the group reimbursed Paul for were also paid for by taxpayers.

“In short, this practice of double or duplicate billing enriched you while draining funds intended for legitimate projects,” the letter read.

Paul spokesman Jesse Benton said James, who worked for Paul for 18 years and says he still supports the lawmaker’s political message, is “pursuing a personal grudge” against the Texas Republican. Benton said Paul will be “happy” to review the allegations….

As reported by Roll Call in February, Paul was paid twice on several occasions for flights between Washington, D.C., and his Congressional district, receiving reimbursement from taxpayers and also from a network of political and nonprofit organizations he controlled, according to public records and Paul’s credit card statements.

THE VOTE 2012 MAP CENTER

Have fun with the Electoral College numbers below and explore the map center here to see state-by-state demographic data and more.

2012 LINE ITEMS

  • Pro-Obama super PAC Priorities USA is following up on the president’s campaign attack of Romney’s record at Bain Capital with a television ad of its own that features a former employee of GST Steel in Missouri. The group is calling the effort the “first in a series of a multi-million dollar campaign running on television and online in Colorado, Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia.” The PAC is also launching a website to hammer Romney’s record as CEO.

  • A Gallup poll released Thursday showed Democrats are happier with the president than Republicans are with Romney.

  • Romney isn’t Jesus, but he may be close enough for Pat Robertson, Buzzfeed writes.

  • American Crossroads is knocking the president for what seems like a small investment in the two-minute anti-Romney ad the Obama campaign released Monday. The group’s spokesman, Jonatahn Collegio, emailed reporters Monday mocking what he says are the total ad buys made by the Obama campaign, which has not disclosed the figures. Collegio wrote the Obama campaign spent $83,000 across five states: Ohio ($52,400), Pennsylvania ($7,900), Virginia ($6,700), Colorado ($2,000) and Iowa ($2,000).

  • The Center for Public Integrity’s iWatch News explores what happens to a super PAC when its candidate goes away.

  • The Des Moines Register makes note of Romney’s return to Iowa Tuesday.

  • Despite his being portrayed as the “first gay president”, a Pew Survey released Monday found over half its respondents were unmoved by Mr. Obama’s announcement of support for gay marriage. According to the study, the voters most likely to decide the election, independents, split evenly on the issue.

  • The conservative blog Powerline points out the risk of the Obama campaign’s Twitter hashtag efforts.

TOP TWEETS

OUTSIDE THE LINES

  • The Washington Post’s Lori Montgomery and Rosalind Helderman report on the rising anxiety on Capitol Hill over “Taxmaggedon.”

  • Roll Call’s Joshua Miller examines Elizabeth Warren’s Senate operation in Massachusetts.

  • A new poll by Democratic pollster Global Strategy Group shows Republican nominee Richard Mourdock in a dead heat with Rep. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., for Richard Lugar’s Senate seat. The poll also shows Mourdock’s unfavorables climbing.

  • The leader board flipped heading into Tuesday’s GOP Senate primary in Nebraska. State’s Attorney General Jon Bruning now trails State Sen. Deb Fischer by 5 percent. The winner will face former Sen. Bob Kerrey in November.

Katelyn Polantz, Cassie Chew and Alex Bruns contributed to this report.

ON THE TRAIL

All events are listed in Eastern Time.

  • President Obama delivers remarks at the National Peace Officers Memorial Service at the U.S. Capitol at 10:55 a.m. He also welcomes the MLS champion Los Angeles Galaxy to the White House at 2:15 p.m.

  • Mitt Romney holds a campaign event in Des Moines, Iowa, at 3:05 p.m.

All future events can be found on our Political Calendar:


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Questions or comments? Email Christina Bellantoni at cbellantoni-at-newshour-dot-org.

Follow the politics team on Twitter: @cbellantoni, @burlij, @elizsummers, @kpolantz, @indiefilmfan and @tiffanymullon.