Though Mitt Romney's campaign has tried to paint the Obama presidency as unsuccessful at creating jobs and ending the recession, the Democratic National Convention last week seems to have injected some hope back into the American economic outlook: The U.S. Gallup Economic Confidence Index surged to -18 for the week ending Sept. 9 -- an 11-point jump from the previous week, and near the highest point reached since Gallup Daily tracking began in January 2008.

The question now is whether that level of confidence can be
maintained. After all, actual economic barometers are more important than public opinion, notes Lynn Vavreck, a political science professor at UCLA and author of The Message Matters: The Economy and Presidential Campaigns (Princeton University Press, 2009).

"Historically speaking, one of the most important fundamental factors in predicting incumbent party reelection is the economy," she said. "But the relationship and the robustness of this isn't based on people's opinions -- it's whether the GDP has grown or declined in the last six months."

Despite sluggish job growth and a weak manufacturing outlook, there are signs the economy is on the rise. Foreclosure rates in 2011 dropped 34% compared with 2010, according to RealtyTrac, and personal bankruptcies also declined during that period.

And while the Gallup poll would suggest that the DNC has ginned up a sizable swing in public optimism, what it may reflect is a highly successful appeal to the party faithful. "More likely what [the DNC] did was tie people's party identifications," Vavrek said. The numbers bear that out: According to Gallup, Democrats' confidence for the week spanning the convention averaged +24, up 17 points from the prior week, and confidence was up 13 points among independents, but was virtually unchanged among Republicans.



Still, the relative buoyancy of the economy may be just enough to secure Obama the victory come November. History is on his side, Vavrek said: "The reality definitely matters, and in this particular case, reality is good enough. Incumbent presidents in growing economies, even in slow-going economies, are hard to beat."

Now it's up to Obama to seize the momentum. "There has clearly been a burst of many kinds of enthusiasm in the immediate wake of the DNC," said Bill Galston, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. "Everything depends on if this is like a flashbulb that goes off -- a burst of light that blinds you and then it gets back to normal -- or whether it has in an enduring sense changed Americans' perceptions of the economy."

The full picture remains to be seen. "The president is not just asking for patience," Galston said. "He's also suggesting that the next four years are going to be better than the last four years. And the Republicans are saying madness is doing the same thing and expecting a different result. The election rides on which one the people think is more plausible come election day."

Increase your money and finance knowledge from home

How much house can I afford

Home buying 101, evaluating one of your most important financial decisions.

View Course »

Building Credit from Scratch

Start building credit...now.

View Course »

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum

840 Comments

Filter by:
Dada Shark

Obama's foriegn policy and economic policy are actually worse than Carter's. .Jimmy Carter ows this president a huge debt of gratitude.

September 16 2012 at 1:22 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Dada Shark

This president paved the way for the Moslem Brotherhood to take over Egypt and Lybia AFTER they called for "D E A T H TO A M E R I C A". Now he and his meida supporters are agreeing with the murders who claim the movie made them do it. He didnt beleive them when they told us they would kill us, but he believes them when they claim the movie justifiess the murder of Americans.

September 16 2012 at 1:19 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
alantatanka

This is a very busy news day and AOL/ Huff Post only print or post Bias articles on Romney. Huge mistakes and very antiAmerican issues have occurred. Perpetrated by obama, his policies and his back paddling, lying administration. Report the news. Even if you get it wrong. Don't pretend it hasn't happened.. We will sort through the info and decide the truth.. REPORT IT!!!!!!!!!

September 13 2012 at 9:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ernieevans101

Confidence is boosting because voters are realizing Romney is going to win.

September 13 2012 at 3:31 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
zapdog4

Our World Wide Ranking dropping to 7th proves this is biased. Our Unemployment rate (Actual) over 14% proves this is biased. Gallup, just recently being sued bu the Obama Administration, trying to save face and fines proves this report is biased... Face it... Obama tried... but he failed.... "Man-Up" and just admit his time is done...

September 13 2012 at 3:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to zapdog4's comment
ecj100

So reporting accurate figures is biased. You must live in the World of Fox, where false statistics are considered the norm. Actual unemployment, of course has declined since the end of the recession. These are daily tracking polls, so why you think they suddenly falsified results is beyond reason. Indeed, issues with the current administration would seem to bias them in favor of a new President, who might treat them more favorably. I would think that a GDP that is growing, rather than receding as in much of the rest of the world, and a stock market that has nearly doubled since the Bush nadir (increasing people's retirement plans by billions of dollars) would in any rational world be considered a good thing.

September 13 2012 at 3:19 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to ecj100's comment
alantatanka

You live in the world of lies and distortion. obama has, does, is, and will, lie cheat, steal or any thing he has to do to stay in power. He is a disgrace and has no honor. This is your hero..

September 13 2012 at 4:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down
vynyltracks

when the unempoyment rate drops
THAT>S A BOOST IN THE ECONOMY
what am the only one not on the drug of the day

September 13 2012 at 3:03 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
dbims

A boost? I think it bypassed all of California because we don't see it here! Too many have fallen off the unemployment list, too many empty business buildings, too many middle-class homeless here, too little work! It's bad, very bad, scary bad!!!

September 13 2012 at 3:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
McLean

Jesus, they'll cherry pick anything to try and win votes.

September 13 2012 at 2:45 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
palmspringslife

a Boost in Economic Confidence Spells Trouble for Romney. Now that's more like the truth.

September 13 2012 at 2:39 PM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply
Bob

Another misleading article? . . . . Rising gold and silver prices coupled with the decreasing value of the US dollar gives additional credence that investors are transparently confident that the powers that be are steadfastly heading in the wrong direction in regards to fiscal and monetary issues.

September 13 2012 at 1:52 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Bob's comment
ecj100

As the value of the dollar has been increasing overall, and silver and gold going down recently, you would be wrong even if they actually meant what you claim, which they do not.

September 13 2012 at 3:21 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply