This is a pretty scary number for any White House political operative. According to a new Bloomberg news poll, over half of Americans think they are worse off now than when Obama took office. From Bloomberg:

The survey, conducted Dec. 4-7, finds that 51 percent of respondents think their situation has deteriorated, compared with 35 percent who say they’re doing better. The balance isn’t sure. Americans have grown more downbeat about the country’s future in just the last couple of months, the poll shows. The pessimism cuts across political parties and age groups, and is common to both sexes.

It doesn’t matter if Obama appears the most “centrist” president in history. It won’t change things if he can convince the voters he is the “lone adult” in Washington by getting lots of “bipartisan” deals. Whether he wins over or pisses off the “professional left” will likely make no difference in 2012 if most Americans think they have been made worse off by Obama’s leadership. I simply can’t see the American people ever re-electing Obama if over his tenure they feel their personal living standards have worsened.

Effectively cutting the income of millions through a federal employee pay freeze isn’t how you make people feel more financially secure. Delaying the start of the benefits of the health care law and refusing to adopt broad, immediately tangible reforms like drug re-importation means almost no one’s life will be improved by 2012. Even Larry Summers is indirectly admitting the liberal critics were completely right when they said the stimulus bill was too small.

Progressive anger is not about some abstract ideological debate. Progressives believe their  policy recommendations will directly improve the lives of Americans and, as a result, pay huge political dividends. Compromises that don’t actually work are not just bad policy, but turn out to be horrible politics.