Poll results now show President Obama leading “Generic Republican” by six points. That is genuinely good news, since “generic Republican,” like “generic Democrat” is usually its party’s strongest contestant.

My morning started off badly when, for the first time in his Presidency (although later than many others), President Obama’s approval rating came below 40% — 39% to be exact. Moreover, huge majorities see the country on the wrong track. Both Gallup and Public Policy Polling, however, show the generic Congressional ballot at +7 Democratic, and absolutely horrific general GOP approval numbers, especially since a majority of voters still blame Bush for the bad economy.

These numbers appear contradictory, but actually make sense. They would present the picture of an electorate that is deeply disappointed in President Obama and pessimistic about the future of the country, but understands that it was the Republicans who got us into this mess and realize that the GOP would make a bad situation appalling.

The question is whether such an explanation gives too much credit to the electorate. If economic conditions continue to deteriorate, I don’t expect them to hold. The economy next year no matter what will be far worse than in 1992, when Bill Clinton unseated George H.W. Bush: the economic pessimism that year failed to rub off on Democratic Congressional majorities. But this situation is genuinely different. All who care about the future of the country and the world had better hope that the voters understand this.

[Cross-posted at The Reality-Based Community]

Jonathan Zasloff

Jonathan Zasloff is a professor of law at the University of California, Los Angeles.