Everybody's (A Little) Happy Nowadays

If this most recent poll from NBC News and the Wall Street Journal is any indication, the public is feeling a little better about our economic situation:

[R]esults from the poll, released Wednesday, found voters feeling more positively about the economy and of Mr. Obama’s handling of it. Some 30% believed the country was headed in the right direction, up eight percentage points from a month ago. Some 60% said the country was on the wrong track, down from 69% in December and from 74% in October. […]

The poll found that more voters are encouraged by recent signs of economic improvement: 37% said they expected the economy to get better over the next year, while 17% said they expected it to get worse. Expectations have risen since last month, when optimists outnumbered pessimists 30% to 22%.

For as much as we focus on political strategy, continued improvement in the economy is the single most important variable in this year’s election. If the economy continues to pick up and these numbers improve, then Obama’s odds for reelection go up considerably.

Relatedly, it should be said that the Federal Reserve has announced its intention to help the recovery along with a new inflation target and another round of bond buying (i.e. quantitative easing). Given how reluctant Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke has been to set an inflation target, this comes as something of a surprise. But, politically, it makes sense. Bernanke has been the target of intense—and sometimes violent—criticism from the Republican Party, and If President Obama loses reelection, he’ll have to work with a GOP that’s grown extremely hostile to central banking.

That’s not to say that he’s politically motivated, but with that in mind, why wouldn’t he try to boost the economy and give Obama—who reappointed him to the position—an edge in the election?