Fifty-six percent of Americans think Barack Obama will win the 2012 presidential election, compared with 36% who think Mitt Romney will win. Democrats are more likely to believe that Obama will win than Republicans are to believe Romney will. Independents are nearly twice as likely to think that Obama, rather than Romney, will prevail.
The marginal factors in the past four or six weeks have looked slightly better for Mr. Romney than Mr. Obama. The recuperation in Mr. Romney’s favorability numbers, for instance — if it was somewhat to be expected — also reduces the risk that his personal qualities might cause him to lose an election that he otherwise would have won, as during another economic downturn.
Meanwhile, the tumultuous situation in Greece may increase the chance of an economic downside case for Mr. Obama. And data from the domestic economy has not been as strong lately. (Although it might also be mentioned that the situation in the Middle East is thought to be improving, and oil pries have receded somewhat.)
Put another way, if you are being very detail oriented, there is a case to be made that Mr. Romney’s odds of being elected have improved somewhat over the past six weeks.
When pollsters call these voting blocs now, many people will likely proclaim their continued loyalty to the president.
They won’t be lying to pollsters about whom they really want to vote for. The issue will be whether they actually go to the booth and vote for Obama.
Many voted in 2008 with the desire to see racism and racists humiliated by having a qualified black man elected president. Especially after eight years of what was not, and still is not, perceived as a successful presidency.
Now, many of these same voters still feel an allegiance to Obama — and he’s their theoretical choice in the election. But along with feeling some allegiance, they also may be left feeling disappointment. And that can lead to a disconnect with what pollsters hear compared with the voters who actually show up on Election Day.
But when I look at the data, a slightly different question comes to mind: Why is Obama even close? If you look at the fundamentals, the president should be getting crushed right now…
The key is his post-boomer leadership style. Critics are always saying that Obama is too cool and detached, arrogant and aloof. But the secret to his popularity through hard times is that he is not melodramatic, sensitive, vulnerable and changeable. Instead, he is self-disciplined, traditional and a bit formal. He is willing, with drones and other mechanisms, to use lethal force.
Normally, presidents look weak in these circumstances, overwhelmed by events. But Obama has displayed a kind of ESPN masculinity — postfeminist in his values, but also thoroughly old-fashioned in style — hypercompetitive, restrained, not given to self-doubt, rarely self-indulgent. Administrations are undone by scandal and moments when they look pathetic, but this administration, guarded in all things, has rarely had those moments.
In that view, the primary fundamentals are these: Obama is the incumbent. The economy is growing at a moderate pace. There’s no serious third-party challenge. We’re not losing massive numbers of soldiers in a foreign war. And when you look at those fundamentals, the reality is this: Incumbent presidents very, very rarely lose under those conditions…
If I seem pedantic on this point, it’s because this is one of my pet peeves in political commentary: Pundits take political situations that can be explained through the fundamentals and then attribute them, without any evidence, to the telegenic characteristics of individual politicians or the messaging decisions made by their campaigns. Then, a few years later, the fundamentals turn around, and suddenly our great communicator has forgotten how to give a speech or run a campaign — or vice versa. Remember that in 1982, Ronald Reagan was under 40 percent in the polls. Then the economy rebounded, and he romped to victory in the election.
There has been nothing very cool about the past 7 weeks for Obama. The president has twisted himself into a policy and rhetorical pretzel to win the support and money he needs from the members of the Democratic coalition.
The Times poll tells the tale: Obama’s nuzzling of the base, beseeching of donors and policy contortions have given Romney the chance to start winning over the narrow band of undecided persuadable voters.
If Democrats don’t want to see Obama defeated, they had better suck it up. Obama is not the superman they believe him to be, nor is his campaign the masterwork they have been led to believe.
The president knows how tight a spot he is in. His supporters are just now realizing it.
Had this been an isolated event, Democrat campaign professionals might not be all that concerned. Mistakes, after all, are made. But this was hardly a “one off.” There are, in the view of many Democratic pros, far too many other examples of the Obama campaign making a hash of fairly straightforward political matters…
The mishandling of the President’s endorsement of same sex marriage sent the president’s re-election prospects into a tailspin; electoral college handicappers busily moved North Carolina from “toss-up” to “likely Republican.” And it necessitated today’s “let’s-get-the-media-talking-about-something-else” news event (the Bain attack ad).
Because we have been told for so long that Team Obama is the very model of the modern campaign operation, we have come to sort of believe it. In reality, they’ve been surprisingly inept since they set up shop last year. They’ve been through three slogans and four over-arching re-election “themes.” They’ve made a big deal out of Romney’s dog. They’ve introduced us to “Julia,” which seemed like a right-wing parody of the perfect constituent of the nanny state. One could on (and on).