In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Poll: Americans Becoming More Optimistic About Economy

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Newscom

These numbers are important because the public's perception of the economy has a dramatic effect on the political fortunes of the president and his party. As just one possible example, the economic outlook in CBS polling showed a noticeable decline in optimism between August 2009 and February 2010 -- a period that saw Dems lose two governorships and the Massachusetts Senate seat. For example, the economy in particular was found to be damaging Obama's numbers in January.

A recession also helped end the administration of President George H.W. Bush in 1992, with a solid economy helping Bill Clinton in 1996. And of course, the economic crash in late 2008 helped to clinch Barack Obama's win -- and that same crisis has bedeviled him ever since.