Finally!

WASHINGTON — Americans’ pessimism about the economy and its future is deepening, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds, and they are increasingly willing to hold President Obama responsible for hard times.

Eight of 10 say the economy is in a recession, and nearly as many say it hasn’t improved over the past year. Even more ominous: Six in 10 predict the economy a year from now will be the same or worse than today, a downturn from the public’s views last year and the year before.

Former president George W. Bush deserves a great deal of blame, 36% say, a decline of 7 percentage points since mid-2009, five months after he had left office.

Twenty-four percent say Obama deserves a great deal of the blame, up 10 points since 2009. For the first time since he took office, a majority of Americans — including six in 10 independents — say he deserves a great deal or moderate amount of blame for the nation’s economic woes.

“The blame-it-on-my-predecessor line is of decreasing help to an incumbent,” says political scientist William Mayer of Northeastern University. “It was perfectly fine when he took office, and even reasonable a year or two in, but eventually, increasingly, it becomes Obama’s economy. It won’t surprise me if by the time you get to the 2012 election Obama has overtaken Bush in that regard.”

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