Recent polls show that Obama’s $100 million worth of unsubstantiated character assaults on Mitt Romney in ads in key toss-up states have had some effect. He leads Romney by one point, 46 to 45, in the latest Rasmussen poll; by two points, 48 to 46, in the latest McClatchy/Marist poll; and leads in Florida, 46 to 45, in the latest Mason-Dixon poll (though Gallup continues to show the two neck-and-neck, nationally, at 46 all, while Pew has been a consistent outlier on the Obama side, giving him a 7 point advantage, 50 to 43).
Nonetheless, I see this as Mitt Romney’s race to lose. And an article by William Galston in liberal New Republic Magazine, http://www.tnr.com/blog/plank/104955/treading-water-why-the-obama-campaign-doing-worse-it-seems, hits the nail on the head in explaining why.
Galston was a domestic policy advisor to Clinton. Now a contributing editor at New Republic, he also chairs the Brookings Institution’s Governance Studies Program. In short, to point out that he’s no conservative mouthpiece is a gross understatement. Yet his article on Friday concludes that unless things change noticeably for Obama, “his presidency will be in jeopardy. And they probably won’t [change]—unless the economy perks up noticeably.” I agree — and here’s why.
Gallup’s job approval ratings for Obama — which have proven accurate in past elections — consistently show Obama at only about 45 percent: a very poor showing for an incumbent. George Bush’s averaged above 50 percent when he ran for re-election in 2004. And almost two-thirds of Americans — 63 percent — see the country on the wrong track, compared to about 55 percent in 2004. Obama’s massive ad assault on Romney in key states in the past month have actually produced little return for the money. Significantly, independents — who favored Obama four years ago — now favor Romney. As Galston points out — there is an “astonishing” 20 percent drop in young voters even being motivated enough to get to the polls this time. And while Obama enjoyed a brief uptick among Hispanics this month following his temporary amnesty for certain young illegal residents, that already shows signs of tapering off as Hispanics show that, like all Americans, jobs are their much greater concern.
And there are more Americans who think that Obama’s handling of jobs and the economy is a reason to vote against him rather than for him. Obama’s support from Catholics and Jews has dropped considerably since 2004 and even his support among African-Americans has dropped from 95% to about 88%, with some showing an inclination not to go to the polls on election day.
People have not warmed up to Mitt Romney, finding him far less likeable than Obama. They also find that he has failed to present a convincing economic plan, though they find him more adept at economic matters than Obama. But the fact that Romney has kept the race close despite this is bad news for Obama because the GOP convention hasn’t been held yet and Romney has months to show that he has a worthwhile plan. A wise vice presidential choice could also give Romney a nice uptick.
In short, though the race is close and Obama has managed to divert attention this month from his own poor performance to make Romney the issue, I see this as Romney’s race to lose. And I’m comforted to see that Galston, a staunch Democrat, agrees — and for much the same reasons.