President Obama speaks about the payroll tax in the Eisenhower Executive… (Saul Loeb / AFP/Getty Images )
Confidence in the U.S. economy has continued to rise and is nearing the highest level of the Obama presidency, according to Gallup's latest polling on the issue.
As has been the case since before Obama took office, Gallup's confidence index remains in negative territory, but it has moved steadily upward since late last summer. That dynamic appears to be the main force pushing Obama's own poll ratings upward as well.
The index measures two things -- how Americans feel about current economic conditions and how they feel about the future. Both have moving upward in recent months, but the biggest movement has been in the feelings about the future.
All that is good news for President Obama -- up to a point. As confidence in the economy has grown, the president’s job approval rating has moved upward, but slowly. It still remains below 50% in Gallup’s tracking, but some other polls have shown slightly more than 50% approval.
More crucially, the economic-confidence numbers seem to be heavily dependent on conditions in the job market, meaning that Obama's reelection hopes are to a large extent hostage to the monthly job-creation figures.