"It's still the economy, stupid", part two

US voter confidence in the economy is falling rapidly. The good news for Obama? Well, once you're at

Economic confidence among US voters remains stubbornly low according to the latest Gallup poll. On the whole, US voters are less confident about the economy than they were in 2010.

Economic confidence is still down

In more bad news for Obama, fewer and fewer people think that things are getting better.

Gulp. Obama could be in trouble.

Unless a 9/11 style catastrophe interrupts the election process, 2012 will be fought on the economy. This makes polls like the above very, very important.

Mitt Romney's campaign, for instance, has focused so far almost entirely on unemployment - and with great success. Despite misgivings among Republican supporters about his religion and healthcare reform support for Romney is strong and, more importantly, it is increasing. While other campaigns have stuttered - particularly those of Newt Gingrich and Tim Pawlenty - Romney has stayed out in front. It is fair to assume that this is, in part, because Romney is seen as a safe pair of hands on the economy.

How can Obama fight against this? The only bright spot for Obama is the fact that, well, things can't get much worse. There is such pessimism among voters currently that any improvement will improve Obama's polling numbers, which, while not great, are not terrible either. If the economy does pick up from its current slump, Obama will be the main political beneficiary.

Things can better. And for Obama's sake, they better.

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What can you do about Europe's refugee crisis?

The death of a three-year-old boy on a beach in Europe has stirred Britain's conscience. What can you do to help stop the deaths?

The ongoing refugee crisis in the Mediterranean dominates this morning’s front pages. Photographs of the body of a small boy, Aylan Kurdi, who washed up on a beach, have stunned many into calling for action to help those fleeing persecution and conflict, both through offering shelter and in tackling the problem at root. 

The deaths are the result of ongoing turmoil in Syria and its surrounding countries, forcing people to cross the Med in makeshift boats – for the most part, those boats are anything from DIY rafts to glorified lilos.

What can you do about it?
Firstly, don’t despair. Don’t let the near-silence of David Cameron – usually, if nothing else, a depressingly good barometer of public sentiment – fool you into thinking that the British people is uniformly against taking more refugees. (I say “more” although “some” would be a better word – Britain has resettled just 216 Syrian refugees since the war there began.)

A survey by the political scientist Rob Ford in March found a clear majority – 47 per cent to 24 per cent – in favour of taking more refugees. Along with Maria Sobolewska, Ford has set up a Facebook group coordinating the various humanitarian efforts and campaigns to do more for Britain’s refugees, which you can join here.

Save the Children – whose campaign director, Kirsty McNeill, has written for the Staggers before on the causes of the crisis – have a petition that you can sign here, and the charity will be contacting signatories to do more over the coming days. Or take part in Refugee Action's 2,000 Flowers campaign: all you need is a camera-phone.

You can also give - to the UN's refugee agency here, and to MOAS (Migrant Offshore Aid Station), or to the Red Cross.

And a government petition, which you can sign here, could get the death toll debated in Parliament. 

 

Stephen Bush is editor of the Staggers, the New Statesman’s political blog.