Alec Baldwin: Let's face it, it looks like Obama has this election in the bag

Via Newsbusters. New poll out from PPP: With Gary Johnson running as a libertarian, Romney’s lead over Obama is down to two — in Montana. Meanwhile, over at Survey USA, Obama’s got a cushy four-point lead against Romney — in North Carolina.

Alternate headline: “Blogger drinking in the daytime again.”

ALEC BALDWIN: Well, you know, things for these guys aren’t going that well. You know the, the economy may stumble. It probably won’t stumble that badly between now and the election. For those people who look at these very handy benchmarks like the Dow, the Dow is still staying pretty well above 13,000. Which that kind of crowd of Romney’s really, really goes for. It’s the anniversary of this president getting Osama Bin Laden. And I think that the Republicans, I think that Romney, these guys are really, really getting scared. They really, they thought to themselves, after a tough primary – and they spent a lot of money on a bloody primary. It’s been a very ugly primary. I was one of the people that said very quickly that all Obama needs to do for the first month of the general election is just show clips of [Newt] Gingrich’s remarks about Romney. Just keep showing clips of Gingrich talking about Romney, in order to really, really get people off that.

Over at Nate Silver’s site, guestblogger John Sides has an interesting bunch of graphs suggesting that Obama’s more popular than he should be. What’s that mean? Well, they took 60 years of quarterly presidential job approval numbers, factored in economic data, scandals, wars, and time in office, and came up with a rough assessment of what any given president’s job approval “should” have been for a particular quarter. Funny thing about The One: Given the protracted crappiness of Obamanomics, he overperforms. A lot.

In fact, he is more popular than expected, and consistently so throughout these three years. His quarterly approval ratings are, on average, nine points higher than expected…

Only two other presidents have experienced a discrepancy between expected and actual approval in their first terms that was larger than the discrepancy in Mr. Obama’s first three years. One was George W. Bush, and this arises largely because the model doesn’t fully anticipate the quickness and size of the “rally effect” that took place after Sept. 11, 2001. The other was Ronald Reagan, whose first-term approval ratings exhibited more fluctuation than Mr. Obama’s but were about 10 points above the model’s expectations, on average.

Sides offers two possible explanations that I’ve flagged here before, more than once — personal likability plus the fact that, even now, a lot of voters out there still blame Bush for the state of the economy more than O. Some readers grumbled at me the last time I mentioned the likability gap between Obama and Romney on grounds that The One simply isn’t that likable and that personal appeal is wildly overrated when voters buckle down in October and do some hard thinking about whether they want four more years of this. I agree that few will vote for O simply because they like him more, but likability may skew their critical judgments of his policies just enough for swing voters to give him the benefit of the doubt on a second-term economic recovery, meaningful deficit reduction, etc. That is to say, likability and the “blame Bush” phenomenon aren’t completely distinct factors. Some people may be more inclined to blame Bush because they like Obama personally. Which, of course, is why his campaign is spending time doing moronic “slow jam the news” segments on Jimmy Fallon. No one with an ego the size of Obama’s wants to spend three minutes playing straight man to a late-night B-lister, but if it helps widen the likability gap, he’ll grin and bear it. (The Obama campaign’s obsession with the Seamus story is the flip side of this, of course.)

Exit question: Is that Survey USA poll trustworthy? Follow the link up top and you’ll find this in the crosstabs:

The bottom row shows the partisan split in the sample. Thirteen points in favor of the Democrats? The 2008 North Carolina exit poll showed only an 11-point spread and that was at the height of Hopenchange — and even then, Obama only won the state by 14,000 votes. C’mon.

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