In related news, Tim Pawlenty just changed his name to “Generic Republican.”
Jim Geraghty’s feeling cautiously optimistic about the data, and understandably so given that independents favor the GOP 42/32 at this point. Excellent news — but I’m not sure what to make of it given prior history:
In both cases the incumbent ended up losing a lot of ground, fatally in the case of Bush I. If that trend holds, The One’s obviously finished. On the other hand, Gallup notes that Dole led Clinton by five in June 1995 and Mondale led Reagan by nine(!) in June 1983, before the economy finally started to pull out of a nasty recession. Which goes to show, I guess, what we already know. Namely, that unless Obamanomics starts to put a dent in unemployment, this guy is truly done. In fact, I wonder whether public awareness of that political reality might affect voting patterns in the Republican primary. If GDP starts to brighten up in the fall, Obama will suddenly be looking much tougher to beat and conservatives may be more inclined to prioritize electability over principle in choosing a nominee. Good news for the field’s centrists. But if the economy faceplants and we’re looking at a double-dip come New Year’s, voters may calculate that we’re going to win no matter who’s nominated and roll the dice on a grassroots favorite. Consider that a silver lining for the White House, I guess: Since they’re so confident that they can beat a tea partier in the general election, if they keep running the economy into the ground they might get their chance to find out.
Yesterday’s WSJ/NBC poll had O ahead of a generic Republican opponent, 45/40, but since that lead and Gallup’s margin are both within the margin of error, let’s just call both dead heats with a little less than a year and a half to go. Here’s Carney at today’s briefing insisting that The One is focused laser-like on the economy even though he apparently can’t be bothered getting briefed much on it anymore. Click the image to watch.