Quotes of the day

With five months until Election Day, Barack Obama faces a grim new reality: Republicans now believe Mitt Romney can win, and Democrats believe Obama can lose … Last week’s anemic job-creation and economic-growth data was sandwiched between two Bill Clinton specials: in one television interview, the 42nd President lauded Romney’s business record as “sterling”; in another, he veered from the Obama line on the extension of Bush-era tax cuts … The failure to unseat Wisconsin’s Republican governor Scott Walker in a recall election was another bad sign for Democrats since it will rev up conservatives nationwide, including the kind of millionaires who gave big bucks to Walker’s effort … Veteran Democratic strategists from previous presidential bids and on Capitol Hill now wonder if the Obama re-election crew is working with the right message … The White House remains on a rough political trajectory, with a potentially adverse Supreme Court decision on the Obama health care law looming, additional bad economic news from Europe coming and more worrisome polling pending


If Republican Mitt Romney is inaugurated as president in January, history may look to June as the month in which President Obama’s fate was sealed.

This may be the month, seen in retrospect, in which it became clear the economic winds that propelled Clinton to a second term won’t be at Obama’s back. Administration officials barely tried to spin last week’s dismal jobs report, an acknowledgment that there was nothing to brag about…

Back home, the Supreme Court is putting finishing touches on a decision on the constitutionality of Obama’s health care overhaul and its individual mandate. Obama has signaled that he will run against Washington at large, the Republican House of Representatives in particular, and maybe even the Court itself; if the Court strikes down the health care overhaul, Obama will have a new target but at the cost of his signature domestic achievement…

Walker’s win added to the perception that Romney has momentum. Senior Republicans were once quietly resigned to the likelihood of another four years under Obama; that mood has changed.


President Obama’s problem now isn’t what Wisconsin did, it’s how he looks each day—careening around, always in flight, a superfluous figure. No one even looks to him for leadership now. He doesn’t go to Wisconsin, where the fight is. He goes to Sarah Jessica Parker’s place, where the money is.

There is, now, a house-of-cards feel about this administration

Any president will, in a presidential election year, be political. But there is a startling sense with Mr. Obama that that’s all he is now, that he and his people are all politics, all the time, undeviatingly, on every issue. He isn’t even trying to lead, he’s just trying to win.


Democrats are having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad June. But if it’s time to start panicking, most of them haven’t gotten the memo.

Despite a spate of negative news, Democrats nationwide, both publicly and privately, seem remarkably Zen about their party’s prospects in November and unwilling to take out any frustration on their man in the Oval Office just yet. “Is there any anxiety on our side? Yes,” said Jerry Crawford, a longtime Democratic activist in Iowa. “Should the other side be feeling at least as much anxiety? Yes. There’s plenty of concern everywhere for both sides.”…

Democrats are less worried about Obama’s performance than they are about factors out of their control, such as how Republicans will handle crucial upcoming debates on jobs, spending, taxes, and the debt ceiling; the prospect of a global economic slowdown, which they know Obama cannot control and which could easily derail his hopes for a second term; and whether their party can stay competitive with Romney on fundraising front…

Democrats acknowledge that Obama has a nuanced sell to make to voters discouraged by how long economic misery has persisted. “It’s hard to get people to remember how bad things could’ve gotten—that’s a tough message to send,” said John Wertheim, a former Democratic Party official in New Mexico.


Swing voters had much more negative opinions of President Obama’s job performance than other voters. In fact, their opinions were almost as negative as those of Romney supporters. Only 11% of swing voters approved of Obama’s job performance compared with 6% of Romney voters. In contrast, 92% of Obama voters approved of the president’s job performance…

These findings suggest two different conclusions about the likely results of efforts by the Obama and Romney campaigns to persuade swing voters to support their candidate. From the standpoint of the Obama campaign, efforts at persuading swing voters are likely to be unproductive and could even backfire. These voters have a decidedly negative view of the president and are very unlikely to vote for him. The best the Obama campaign can hope for is that most of these swing voters will not bother to turn out in November.

In contrast, the Romney campaign would appear to have a good chance of winning most of these swing voters over to their side by November based on their negative opinions about President Obama’s job performance. Such opinions are typically a very strong predictor of presidential voting decisions, especially when an incumbent president is running for reelection. The greater challenge for the Romney campaign may be getting these discontented swing voters to turn out given their very low enthusiasm about voting. This suggests that a strategy combining persuasion and mobilization may be needed.


The first look at the 2012 FiveThirtyEight presidential forecast has Barack Obama as a very slight favorite to win re-election. But his advantage equates to only a two-point lead in the national popular vote, and the edge could easily swing to Mitt Romney on the basis of further bad economic news.

Mr. Obama remains slightly ahead of Mr. Romney in most national polls, and he has had a somewhat clearer advantage in polling conducted at the state level. Mr. Obama would be about 80 percent likely to win an election held today, according to the model.

However, the outlook for the Nov. 6 election is much less certain, with Mr. Obama having winning odds of just over 60 percent. The forecast currently calls for Mr. Obama to win roughly 290 electoral votes, but outcomes ranging everywhere from about 160 to 390 electoral votes are plausible, given the long lead time until the election and the amount of news that could occur between now and then.


So let’s do some similar scenario planning for 2012, when another tight election is expected. It is also expected to be decided by less than 3 percentage points, just like 2004. And today, nearly every public opinion poll shows the race within the margin of error between President Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney.

In a very tight race this November, Obama could lose the popular vote, and win the electoral college. Let me say that slightly differently: Romney could win the popular vote by more than 1 million votes and lose the electoral college to Obama by a margin of 272 to 266. What a difference in talking points that would mean for the two parties compared with the 2000 presidential election controversy.

Let me show how you I arrived at this scenario. Obama won the popular vote by a national percentage of just over 7 points in 2008. If we subtract 8 points from the margin in every state, Romney would have a little less than a 1-point victory nationally (which gives you the 1 million vote margin for him in the popular vote).