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June 01, 2009

Rasmussen: Only 31% Say Spendulus Helped the Economy

27% say it hurt the economy. 31% said it had no effect. So 58% think Obama's signature plan did nothing to improve things or actually made them worse.

Not surprisingly, 62% think that Bush is responsible for the current economic situation, and only 27% think that Obama is. 10% say they don't know who is more responsible.

On that last thing: The question is badly phrased. The first two suggestions seem to suggest the question is just getting at who has any responsibility at all, while the "more responsible" phraseology then suggests we're asking about comparative blame. Here's the actual question, hinting at both:

1* Some people say the nation’s current economic problems are due to the recession which began under the Bush Administration. Others say the problems are being caused more by the policies President Obama has put in place since taking office. Which point of view comes closest to your own?

62% Economic problems are due to the recession that began under Bush
27% Economic problems are caused by policies President Obama has put in place
10% Not sure

See what I mean? The question can't decide if it's asking which president has any responsibility for the current economic situation or who is more responsible for it. The Bush prong of the question asks if the Bush recession is "responsible," at all, for the, um, current recession, whereas the Obama prong asks if his policies are more responsible.

Of course Bush is partly responsible for the current recession. He may even be "more responsible" than Obama -- Obama's policies are ruinous, but prospectively so; we're only beginning to see their bad effects on the economy.

If you're going to ask who is responsible, period, do so, but don't be surprised when you get a boring answer like 90% saying "both." If you're going to ask who is more responsible -- well, do that. Cleanly.

But even that question, properly asked, wouldn't be very useful for predicting the future public mood.

Bush is out of office and Obama is President. That means that even if Obama is merely, say, 10% responsible, while Bush is responsible for the other 90%, the fact is that Obama is currently the guy with the job, making the decisions, and Bush is retired in Crawford. The fact that Bush might be to more responsible for the current problems doesn't change the fact that Obama is the one actually, legally responsible for fixing them (and not creating more of them).

Here's an analogy: Two men commit a crime. One man is more responsible for it than the other. But both have some responsibility. The man who's more responsible flees the country, leaving the other man alone in the dock.

Whether the other guy is "more responsible" or not doesn't really change the fact that the guy on trial is responsible and will answer for his actions.

Point being: This is a confused question. Further, it doesn't really tell us anything unexpected or very important. It's not unexpected because Obama's only been in office 140 days or so and did in fact inherit a recession.

Ultimately, he's the guy tasked with ending that recession, whatever his blame for having created it. "The other guy left me a big mess" is a useful defense for poor job performance, but it does have a limited duration.

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posted by Ace at 01:44 PM

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