Sorry Jeb, but a majority of Americans still blame your brother for the struggling economy

Posted by Mitch Perry on Thu, Nov 8, 2012 at 12:37 PM

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Throughout this presidential campaign, Jeb Bush took President Obama to task for continuing to blame his predecessor, George W. Bush, for the struggling American economy.

"It's kind of like a kid coming to school saying, 'The dog ate my homework,'" Florida's former governor said back in June. "It's childish. This is what children do until they mature. They don't accept responsibility."

Although Bush certainly has a point about taking responsibility, the fact is most Americans still blame his brother more than the current president for our economic woes, perhaps one other reason why the country was willing to give Obama four more years.

Exit polls show that 53 percent of the public still blames George W. Bush for the country's economic problems, 36 percent blame Obama.

Last week's decent jobs report that included 171,000 jobs that were added in September prompted some business writers to state that whomever the next president, he'd inherit a stronger economy than the one Obama had to contend with in January of 2009.

This idea led me to ask former Gov. Bush if he agreed with that premise — that whomever the next POTUS, he'd be dealing with better circumstances than W. left the cupboard four years ago.

Not surprisingly, Jeb Bush disagreed.

"For four years, we've had the worst recovery in modern times," said Bush last week while standing outside La Segunda Bakery in Ybor City. "Presidents learn that without leadership, we can't solve problems, and this president has spent a lot of energy around blaming others for the tepid recovery that we have."

Bush added that "of course there's been a rebound," but emphasized that it was still the "worst" economic recovery the country has ever had.

It has been a rough recovery, but did Romney convince people that his five-point plan would be the elixir, or are the American people a little bit more sophisticated than that?

There's strong evidence that the public still blames George W. Bush. In an op-ed in today's New York Times, Joel Benenson said a private survey he took right before the election revealed this information (Benenson is also Obama's pollster, but he said this poll was for his own company).

Two key data points illustrate why Americans were always far more open to President Obama's message and accomplishments than commentators assumed. By a three to one margin (74 percent to 23 percent), voters said that what the country faced since 2008 was an extraordinary crisis more severe than we've seen in decades; as opposed to a typical recession that the country has every several years. At the same time, a clear majority, 57 percent, believed that the problems we faced after the crisis were too severe for anyone to fix in a single term, while only 4 in 10 voters believed another president would have been able to do more than Mr. Obama to get the economy moving in the past four years.

It's perfectly normal for Jeb Bush to tell Obama to shut up about his brother, put his big-boy pants on, and accept responsibility for the state of the economy. But as the poll (and election) numbers show, the president's blaming for the economy is something that Americans understood. They may not have such an appetite to hear that any longer, but they didn't hold it against Obama for most of his first term.

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