NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Republicans can't seem to agree with the Federal Reserve, even when the Fed states a fact. Though central bank governors agree that, while mixed, the economy has been positive, exit polls show most Republicans think the national economy is getting worse.
Under Barack Obama, America hasn't been working," Mitt Romney said Tuesday night to supporters in Milwaukee. "The ironic tragedy is that the community organizer who wanted to help those hurt by a plant closing became the president on whose watch more jobs have been lost than any time since the Great Depression." Exit polls taken by The Washington Post showed 40% of Wisconsin voters felt the economy was "getting worse," while 50% of Maryland voters and 45% of Illinois voters responded the same. The percentage of primary voters who said they thought the economy was "starting to recover" lagged significantly in Wisconsin, Maryland and Illinois at 30%, 21% and 22%, respectively. Granted, many voters could have been responding based on their perception of economic circumstances rather than what statistics have shown, but it's significant that the percentage gap is in the double digits between those who see a recovery and those who see more downturn. "There's such a deep-seated personal opposition to this president and everything that he's done," said Gary Dorrien, a social ethicist at Columbia University. "This recovery is very slow, we're coming out of a very deep hole, but all of the macroeconomic indicators are pointing in the right direction." Since 1948, only once has unemployment been above the 10% high of October 2009: From September 1982 through June 1983, the unemployment rate hung at 10.1% or higher before it fell off to 9.4% in July 1983, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Through February 2012, though, unemployment has dropped off to a current 8.3% rate as other key indicators like gross domestic product, manufacturing and households' real disposable income have improved, albeit moderately. "On balance, U.S. financial conditions became somewhat more supportive of growth over the intermeeting period," the Federal Open Market Committee notes released Tuesday said. " Economic data were generally better than market participants had expected and investors appeared to see diminished downside risks associated with the situation in Europe."
Despite the Fed's cautious guidance, a large number of Republican voters do think the economy is getting worse. Dorrien,
whose recent book "The Obama Question: A Progressive Perspective" offers a critique of the successes and failures of Obama's term as president, said he can sympathize with the chunk of Americans who can't find work, and he even contended that Obama likely wasn't ready for the economic collapse that's unfolded since his 2008 victory. "Frankly, he wasn't ready. I mean he needed, even now, he thinks he needs Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner -- he took Geithner's wife for a walk a few months ago and said, 'Please, don't let him resign,'" Dorrien said in reference to a November 2011 New York Times report. "I think Obama has gotten clear about what didn't work for him in his first term, and he's gotten clear about what his presidency needs to be about." If Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and the central bank decide to enact any monetary policy between now and the election, it would likely take a while for it to have an effect on real output, pricing and unemployment. Though the Fed generally sees economic activity expanding, it has also said that downside risk remains, which is the guidance many Republican-base voters are criticizing. The Fed has forecast continued moderate economic growth and gradual declines in unemployment. This would seem to bode well for Obama as voters might be more willing to offer him a second term with the prospects of a healing economy. But a sudden disturbance could sway a majority of the American electorate to side with Republican pessimists. -- Written by Joe Deaux in New York. >Contact by Email. >Follow Joe Deaux on Twitter. Subscribe on Facebook.