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Economic Gains May Not Help Democrats Much In 2014

While the Fed's program could still ignite inflation, so far it has helped encourage business and consumer spending and housing purchases and has helped lift stocks, with the Dow industrials roughly doubling since Obama took office.

Trying to take credit for economic gains can backfire on a president, analysts in both parties agree.

Democratic strategists James Carville, Stan Greenberg and Erica Seifert concluded from focus-group sessions with both Democratic and Republican audiences that Obama fares far better in speeches when he highlights economic progress without taking credit.

People "are very much on edge financially ... because they live it every day. Every speech needs to start from a place that understands this is not theoretical or ideological," they wrote in a policy memo. Obama must "thread a very careful needle," they concluded.

Republican consultant Rich Galen said presidents in general â¿¿ and Obama in particular â¿¿ tend to take disproportionate responsibility for economic advances. "Although we know from the data that the economy is creaking ahead, it certainly isn't booming â¿¿ with so many people who continue to be out of work. Everybody knows somebody who doesn't have a job," Galen said.

Americans don't like it when presidents pound their own chests rhetorically or talk up their accomplishments, says Ross Baker, a political science professor at Rutgers University. "Americans would say, 'Well, that's our judgment to make, whether you're doing a good job or not.'"

"Facts speak for themselves," Baker said. "If things are good, you don't really need to make any extraordinary claims. Nobody notices a sunny day. But when it rains, you've got to get an umbrella, put on a raincoat. Psychologically, it's a very different kind of situation."

Obama also believes his major health insurance overhaul, now known by opponents and supporters alike as "Obamacare," will keep down health care costs in the years ahead. Republicans disagree.

___

Follow Tom Raum on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/tomraum

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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