On first blush, you'd think yet another lousy economic report—this one saying that the median American family's net worth had fallen back to mid-'90s levels—would be bad news for President Obama. But there's another school of thought out there, notes Steve Kornacki at Salon. A theory championed by two political scientists suggests the public remembers that things started tanking well before Obama took office and that George W. Bush handed over an "imploding economy" to his successor. The theory helps explain why Obama's favorability ratings remain solid despite the bleak fiscal news.
Voters might be frustrated at the pace of recovery, but they don't necessarily blame Obama for the original problems, and they might be nervous about a change at the top amid crisis. Mitt Romney's strategy, of course, "relies on voters making a simple present-tense judgment" against the president. Obama, however, is hoping that enough people remember the bad old days and give him the "benefit of the doubt" to continue his strategy. Whether this holds up against several more bleak reports is the big question. Read the full column here. (Read more President Obama stories.)