Why the increased gloom, even as the economy is finally getting better? In part, it is because of the long, slow nature of the recovery, says Taylor Griffin, a former aide to John McCain who is now a partner at Hamilton Place Strategies. More than two years into the longest downturn since the Great Depression, they have lost faith that a strong rebound is on the horizon. “(Obama’s)ᅠ got an uphill battle to climb. He’s lost a lot of credibility on the economy,” Griffin says.

What accounts for the difference? In part, that’s typical. People often view their own situations more favorably than they do the economy as a whole.

“People adjust their opinions on their personal finances in real time — they look at their bank accounts,” says Griffin. “Their view on the larger economy tends to lag several months behind what’s going on.”

But he also argues that the individual optimism may reflect that the worst of the recession is over. Consumers have begun to spend a little more freely, and the fear of losing a job has receded. “We may continue to experience stagnant to slow growth,” Griffin says. “But people increasingly feel that if they have a job, they will be OK financially.”

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