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Poles Apart: Americans Split Opinion on Obama Economy

This occurred to me as I was reading my colleague Kevin Derby's piece about new polls showing Americans are feeling better about the economy, but not about Obama. The piece included a line saying only 31 percent of likely voters in November believed the country was headed in the right direction.

Now, maybe it's because I'm a child of the misbegotten Carter years. Or maybe it's because Americans in general have a national character that can be like biting tinfoil, but in 25 years of professional newspaper work, I have yet to see a poll that shows a majority of my countrymen think we're headed in the right direction.

But the beauty of it is, most people think it will come right in the end.

Take, for instance, a CBS News/New York Times poll in January 2009 -- right about when the recession was coming to a statistical end -- that asked respondents if they thought the country was in worse shape than it was five years previously or better. Eighty-three percent said it was worse off.

So, everyone's down on the country, right?

Not quite. The same poll asked what respondents expected things to be like five years into the future. Sixty-one percent -- a solid majority -- expected things to be better.

So, we're always headed in the wrong direction, but even when things are going bad, we know they're going to turn around soon.

Here's hoping that turnaround comes in November.

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