Today’s Gallup tracking poll reports that Barack Obama’s lead over Mitt Romney has grown slightly, from five to six percentage points. Obama’s job approval is also up by six percentage points from a week ago.
But that’s not the most interesting tidbit from Gallup today.
“PRINCETON, NJ — The U.S. Gallup Economic Confidence Index surged to -18 for the week ending Sept. 9, up 11 points from -29 the prior week. This puts the index near the high point for the year after 2 ½ months when, weighed down by continued high unemployment, the index had languished well below -20.”
According to Gallup, that 11-point jump represents the biggest one-week jump in the more than four years that the question has been asked. The previous biggest jump came after the announcement that Osama bin Laden had been killed.
So what accounts for this sudden leap of optimism?
“It appears that the spark for the dramatic rise in Americans’ economic confidence last week was the Democratic National Convention. A review of Gallup’s nightly tracking results shows that the index was consistently near or below -25 each night in late August and early September, but then sharply improved on Sept. 4, the first night of the convention, to -18.
Confidence then held at or near -18 through Sunday, despite the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ mixed August unemployment report Friday morning showing continued weak jobs growth.”
Political analysts have long believed that candidates who preach optimism will outperform those who push pessimism, and it’s hard to imagine a better confirmation of that theory than these Gallup numbers. For example, here’s Vice President Joe Biden in his convention speech:
“In the face of the deepest economic crisis in our lifetimes– this nation proved itself. We’re as worthy as any generation that has gone before us. The same grit, the same determination, the same courage, that has always defined what it’s meant to be an American—is in you.
We’re on a mission to move this nation forward—from doubt and downturn, to promise and prosperity. A mission we will continue and a mission we will complete.”
And here’s his counterpart Paul Ryan last weekend:
“I think President Obama has placed us on a path to decline. Four budgets, $4 trillion deficits, 23 million people struggling to find work, the highest poverty rates in a generation, nearly one out of six Americans in poverty….”
One approach seems to be resonating. The other, not so much.
– Jay Bookman