Media musings: Could Obama actually lose?
posted at 2:56 pm on May 9, 2012 by Ed Morrissey
The mainstream media seems to have awoken to the fact that an incumbent President polling in the mid-40s in May could very well be an unemployed former President by January. Josh Kraushaar analyzes the latest polling and pronounces Barack Obama the underdog in the race:
This presidential election is coming down to two immutable facts that have become increasingly clear as November draws closer: President Obama will be running for a second term under a stagnant economy, and his two most significant legislative accomplishments—health care reform and a job-goosing stimulus—remain deeply unpopular. It doesn’t take a professional pundit to recognize that’s a very tough ticket for reelection.
Let’s not forget that the ad that supposedly presents Obama’s record — “Go” — doesn’t mention either of those legislative accomplishments, nor the costly Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform bill passed nearly two years ago. ObamaCare polls so badly that even a plurality of Democrats want the Supreme Court to strike down the individual mandate on which it’s based.
The Obama-Romney matchups aren’t the only worrisome data from the polls, either. Despite the best attempts from Democrats to paint Republicans as a disloyal opposition, voters simply aren’t buying it:
Obama’s scores on the economy are worsening, even as voters still have mixed feelings on who’s to blame. In the Battleground survey, nearly as many voters now blame Obama for the state of the economy (39 percent) as those who don’t think it’s his fault (40 percent). In both the Battleground and Democracy Corps polls, 33 percent said the country is on the right track, with 59 percent saying it’s on the wrong track—numbers awfully similar to the state of play right before the 2010 Republican landslide. These are several leading indicators that suggest the trajectory could well get worse for the president as the election nears.
And the survey data suggest that Republicans in Congress, unlike their Newt Gingrich-led counterparts in 1996, aren’t shaping up to be the reviled opposition (yet) that the White House is hoping they’ll be. The Battleground survey found Republicans leading Democrats by 2 points on the generic congressional ballot, while Democracy Corps found Democrats in Congress with only a slightly higher approval score (43.1) than Republicans (41.2). If the public favors Hill Democrats, it’s by a narrow margin.
Finally, Kraushaar argues that the main columns in Obama’s base are significantly less energized than in 2008:
The other big red flag for the president is the waning enthusiasm of his base—college-age voters, African-Americans, and Hispanics. The most recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll showed that fewer than half of voters (45 percent) ages 18-34 expressed a high interest in the election, down 17 points from the same time four years ago. Democratic enthusiasm overall is down 16 points from 2008, and it now lags behind the GOP.
This is critical, because, for Obama, excitement is as important as persuasion. It’s no coincidence that Obama held his first two rallies on college campuses. Obama campaign officials have been anticipating an upward tick in the minority share of the electorate for 2012 to compensate for the expected loss of older, white voters, and they are counting on college students to organize and rally behind the president, like they did for him in 2008. Those assumptions are hardly guaranteed.
We’ve already seen the campaign get embarrassed by bad turnouts for their campaign launch events this week, both at college campuses where Obama attained rock-star status in 2008. They’re obviously concerned about it, too, because the campaign has launched a $25 million ad buy in nine swing states, according to National Journal — an odd decision six months out from the election, which looks like desperation. Kraushaar likens it to abandoning the running game when trailing by two touchdowns in a football game, but even more so because this is really the first quarter of the general election campaign.
Not only does it appear that Obama could lose, the campaign seems to exhibiting some signs of panic over the prospect, too. That may be deliberate, though, as they try to convince donors to open up their checkbooks. Yesterday, James Carville tried to hit the alarm on CNN, both in an appearance with John King and in a column with a very clear message of WTFU, both of which AP addressed in his QOTD last night. Carville’s looking at the same polling data as Kraushaar, and the same reality check has resulted. And in case you’re wondering, WTFU is not a reference to winning the future:
Carville calls for an “insurgent mentality,” but that’s going to be a tall order for the establishment. Obama has been in office for more than three years. Is he going to run against himself? He can’t run against a do-nothing Congress, because the chamber that’s doing nothing is the Senate — which is controlled by Democrats.
Whatever the sense of real or feigned panic, the point to all of this is to get big-ticket liberal donors worried enough to start raising money and engaging in the election. It may be that these donors already know of Obama’s plight, however, and don’t feel like intervening to save him from his electoral fate. After all, none of this is exactly news. The only news is the fact that the media seems to finally be noticing it.
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