Double Dose of Good Timing Aiding Obama's Re-Election Chances
"[Paul] Volcker was very unpopular," says White of the famous inflation-fighting Fed chief, who even Reagan criticized. "Mr. Bernanke is taking a lot of the heat: Why hasn't the economy done better? How dare you turn on the spigot?"
"He’s given Obama a good kind of defense," adds Brookings' Frenzel. "Bernanke has a lot of critics."
They happen to include a couple of GOP presidential candidates, which has also benefited Obama, according to some analysts.
For some, Obama's brightening prospects, as well as his approval ratings, also happen to coincide with a sputtering GOP campaign strategy on the economy.
"They have offered no blueprint for making a better recovery; their economic proposals aren't terribly important to the average American voter," says Frenzel. "Obama can say things are good. He can justifiably say that. As long as he keeps doing that, and adds that things could be better, he’s OK."
That caveat is important because all of the economists interviewed for this story are in some way critical of Obama's handling of the economy.
The last driver, and perhaps the most ironic one, is the recovery in the stock market from its shocking lows of March 2009, just months after Obama took office.
Obama, unlike no other president in modern time, has been seen as unsympathetic, if not hostile, toward Wall Street and the fortunes of the stock market.
But again, like Reagan and Bush, perhaps even more so, the stock market's steady rebound has tempered voter antipathy, which is reflected in rising consumer confidence.
"The market has gone up sharply," says FAO's Brusca. "That’s in his favor."
Just as the market stormed back from its bear-market low in October 2002, it has returned to its pre-crisis level or better. Moreover, the first two months of this year were the best in some three decades.
"When the stock market is up, everybody begins feels a little better," says Frenzel. "It filters down pretty quickly. Joe Six Pack probably doesn't think about his 401(k) very often, but he knows it's there for him."