0% - He’s right. The economy is fine.
68% - He’s wrong. What game is he watching?
32% - It’s not all bad, but it’s not good, either.
We’ve all said things we would like to retrace, perhaps as soon as the words clear our lips. No doubt this happened to President Obama last week when he said, now famously, “The private sector is doing fine.”
I was watching his speech as he said those words and, frankly, my jaw dropped. Was it just an ill-phrased, extemporaneous thought? Were those words written for him to read? Does he really believe that?
For the past two years, periodically we’ve polled our audience about the condition of the economy. The results have pretty much been the same every time: less than one-fourth are doing well, less than one-fourth are not doing well, and the half in the middle are doing just okay. That means about three-fourths of our respondents have consistently reported less-than-desirable business conditions.
But when we polled our online audience recently about their response to President Obama’s appraisal of the private sector economy, not one person agreed with him. Not even, apparently, the one-fourth of our respondents who have consistently reported favorable business conditions. Almost seven of ten of our sample said, “He’s wrong. What game is he watching?” And the rest, 32%, said, “It’s not all bad, but it’s not good, either.”
There are only three reasons why the President would say something like this at this point in time: 1) He misspoke; 2) his remark was out of context; or 3) he is out of touch with the economic reality. Frankly, since he is very smart, a pretty good politician and has a world-class political team around him, it’s difficult to imagine that he would misspeak or not avoid being taken out of context on THE issue that is likely to decide the election.
One thing is certain: President Obama has now burned the first two excuses. From now to November 6, voter scrutiny regarding the economy will be based on one question: Is he watching the same ballgame as the rest of us?