Paul Krugman is asked how Bush's poll numbers for his handling of the economy can be rising if people are dissatisfied with the economy's performance:
How's Bush Doing? Just Check the Price of Gas, Paul Krugman, Money Talks: Ronald Hernandez, Saint Amant, La.: ... if the economy is doing so poorly for the average Mary or Joe, then why are the latest polls consistently showing that more and more people are feeling better about it? ... And, oh yes, I am from the Katrina area and am well aware of how the Bush machine is working on its latest portrait. They are in the process of painting a picture of unpreparedness and incompetence within Louisiana's state and local governments in reaction to the worst natural disaster ever in the United States.
Paul Krugman: The latest polls do show some improvement in peoples' perception of the economy, although it's still strongly negative. But there's no mystery there: it's all about gasoline prices. It turns out that there's a stunningly close relationship between short-term movements in Bush's approval rating and changes in the price of gasoline. You can see it for yourself at an interesting web site, Professor Pollkatz's Pool of Polls. (The site is very anti-Bush but provides interesting data analysis whatever your politics.) In fact, given the fall in gas prices back to pre-Katrina levels, the surprising thing is how little of a boost Bush and his economic performance ratings have received.