A newly released NBC News/Wall Street Journal Poll shows that more Americans are feeling optimistic about the economy and the direction of the country. Is this bad news for the Republican presidential candidates?
Ordinarily one would be forgiven for thinking that a 30/61 right track/wrong track split on a poll would be terrible news for an incumbent president. But these numbers, released Wednesday evening, are being heralded as good news by the White House. The poll indicates an 8-point jump in the right track number, and an 8 percent decrease in the wrong track since December 2011. It is a 13-point increase since October. This is the highest the "right track" number has been since June of last year.
What's more, for the first time in six months, more people approve in the job President Obama is doing than disapprove, by a margin of 48/46 percent.
"The calendar says it’s the dead of winter, but for President Obama, these results must feel like the start of spring," said Democratic pollster Peter D. Hart, who conducted this survey with Republican pollster Bill McInturff.
However, Congress as an institution is not enjoying a similar rebound. It remains at a near historic low of 13 percent approval with 80 percent of Americans not at all happy with the job Congress is doing.
The poll comes after three months of improving economic data with an unemployment rate that has dipped below 9 percent for the first time in more than two years, and job numbers that have been better than anticipated.
37 percent of poll respondents now believe the economy will improve over the next year compared to 30 percent in December and the low water mark of 21 percent in October. The number of respondents who think the economy will remain about the same is 44 percent, down from 47 percent last month. The pessimistic view that things will get worse has also come down from a high point of 32 percent in October to 17 percent this month.
What's good news for the economy would appear to be bad news for his Republican challengers, according to GOP pollster McIntruff.
It serves as a warning to Republicans running for president, said McInturff, the Republican pollster.
“Republicans had better bring their A-game to the election in November,” he said, “as today's results are a reminder -- as attitudes about the economy improve, so does President Obama's standing.”
The poll included 1,000 respondents and had an error margin of plus or minus 3.1 percent.