“No matter what, the incumbent tends to benefit when the economy improves,’’ Beattie said. “They also tend to give the president more credit and more blame.”
Brown noted that the most recent Quinnipiac University poll gave the governor the highest rating since his election in 2010, just over 40 percent, and pointed to Ohio Gov. John Kasich, whose job approval numbers used to be as bad as Scott’s but whose numbers rose as the economy in that state improved.
Obama is expected to use his speech Thursday afternoon at the Jacksonville Port authority to go beyond improvements in the economy, however, and renew his call for renewed federal investment in infrastructure and port development. The Jacksonville speech, he said Wednesday, will “offer new ideas for doing what America has always done best: building things.”
Scott has also made the investment in ports a cornerstone of his economic development efforts, dedicating $77 million for a long-sought dredging project in the Port of Miami. But the governor will keep his distance from Jacksonville on Thursday and remain out of state at a Republican governors’ convention.
The president’s remarks are part of a several-week long series of addresses intended to call attention to the renewed plight of the middle class. He began his speaking tour in Illinois on Wednesday, where he returned to the site of his first major economic speech as a young Illinois senator and announced that while the economy has improved under his watch, his “highest priority” will be shrinking the growing gaps in income between the very rich and everyone else.
“This growing inequality, it’s not just morally wrong, it’s bad economics,” he said. “Because when middle-class families have less to spend, guess what? Businesses have fewer consumers. When wealth concentrates at the very top, it can inflate unstable bubbles that threaten the economy. When the rungs on the ladder of opportunity grow farther and farther apart, it undermines the very essence of America, that idea that if you work hard, you can make it here.”
With new polls showing the president’s approval ratings at their lowest in two years, Obama used his speech to chastise Republicans in Congress for “an endless parade of distractions, political posturing and phony scandals” that have taken “their eye off the ball.”
Polls show that it is in the president’s interest to distance himself from Congress. A McClatchy-Marist poll conducted last week found Obama’s job approval at 41 percent, his worst showing in the poll since 39 percent in September 2011, while 48 percent of the public disapproved. The drop in job performance numbers come after weeks of rising gasoline prices, revelations about domestic spying and turmoil in the Middle East
The president’s ratings, however, are still better than those of congressional Republicans, who control the House of Representatives. Their approval numbers dropped to 22 percent, while an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll also conducted last week found that 83 percent of Americans disapprove of the job Congress is doing.
Mary Ellen Klas can be reached at meklas@MiamiHerald.com and Twitter @MaryEllenKlas