Mood swings within political parties are commonplace and notoriously wide, and right now there’s a fair amount of pessimism among Republicans about their prospects for beating Barack Obama in 2012. But there’s a figure in the most recent Gallup Poll that should encourage the GOP and conservatives of every stripe: When asked whether they think President Obama is doing a good job or a poor job at making America prosperous, 55 percent of Americans said a poor job while 36 percent said a good job. To have a 19-point gap on an issue of this salience cannot be good news for the White House; and if gas prices continue to rise, the recovery remains anemic, and the housing market remains weak, both Obama and his party may be looking back wistfully at the 2010 mid-term elections.
There’s a lot of time between now and the next presidential election, of course, and we have yet to see a single GOP candidate formally announce his candidacy. The individual Obama will face matters a great deal — but so do the conditions in the country and the public’s perception of things. And right now, neither is particularly good.