When President Obama took his first trip to Martha’s Vineyard after taking office, the excitement among locals here was palpable, from the signs of support strung across shop windows and front porches to a full-page newspaper ad taken out by 125 Vineyard grandmothers in support of his health care plan.
This week, with the jobless rate stuck above 9 percent and the president’s nationwide approval rating at its lowest level, the Vineyard’s broad allegiance shows cracks, leaving some islanders with a more textured, even tormented feeling about the president.
“I just have to say I feel really uncomfortable, because I love loving him,’’ said Leslie Pearlson, a real estate broker on the island.
At the core of islanders’ misgivings is the shaky local economy. Although the Vineyard is sometimes depicted as a playground for the rich and famous, the numbers tell another side of the story.
Empty storefronts dot main streets in Vineyard Haven, Edgartown, and elsewhere. According to the island’s Chamber of Commerce, at least one member of nearly every Vineyard household is dependent on summer business, which softened during the recession and still has not recovered.