There are five reasons for this:
1. The Media lies.
2. Most people are whiners.
3. The Media lies.
4. The price of a gallon of gas
5. The Media lies.
Yes. I'd add a sixth: The media lies.
Reason #6: The Media lies. :)
6) The administration's amazing communications ineptitude. Exhibit A is Scott McClellen, but he is just one of the problems.
President Bush: The vision of Reagan, the effectiveness of Carter.
You should put number 4 in all 5 spots, if the price of gas doesn't fall Republicans will pay for it this year.
The facts don't matter, as long as Joe and Suzy Voter see prices as high as they are it's going to hurt.
Sad truth is your are right. Most of the people I know are worried about their personal economy and have ben so for years. It is a mixture of hype and reality. Prices have gone up (see gas), wages are going up slowly if at all for some, taxes are up (come to Houston and find out, the tax cut I got a few years ago has been swallowed up and then some by local taxes, debt is up for many, and many do not think they are secure in their jobs.
How much is truth and how much is hype depends on the person's situation. But most of the people I know are startign to worry and play their cards close to the vest.