Election 2012

Can Obama win despite his terrible numbers?

on . Posted in Election 2012

WASHINGTON (PNN) - July 30, 2012 - If illegitimate President Barack Obama is to win re-election, he is going to have to overcome a set of numbers that no incumbent president or incumbent party has ever managed to surmount.

The official jobless rate has been stuck at just above 8% for months (and the actual jobless rate is closer to 23%); you have to go back to 1936 to find a president re-elected with a higher unemployment rate; and in Franklin D. Roosevelt’s case, it was a far better number than he had inherited. Plus, growth was booming.

Today, real growth is at 1.5%. In the economic forecasting models, this portends what even the liberal arts majors have been predicting: a very close election.

The core question for many voters - “Are you generally satisfied with the country’s direction, or has the U.S. gone off on the wrong track” - gets a 32.7-60.7 negative answer, according to the RealClearPolitics average. Generally, an incumbent party needs to have at least a 35% positive response to this question to win the election, according to the Gallup Organization.

The consumer confidence level is now about 60%. No incumbent party has ever kept the White House with a number anything like that.

The unavoidable conclusion is that there is no way an incumbent president could get re-elected given these current numbers.

In this sense, the 2012 election is going to test just how predictive many of these “fundamental” models are, and whether the assertion of some forecasters - that the outcome can be known irrespective of candidates and campaigns - is valid.

Why? Because, to put it bluntly: The Republicans have nominated a bad candidate.

It is often said that a re-election campaign is always about the incumbent; like many political observations, that’s partly, but not wholly true. Even when the electorate is disposed to replace the president, it has to be satisfied that the challenger is up to the job. Mitt Romney has yet to meet that test.

However, the Obama campaign can take very limited comfort from Romney’s discomfit. If the fundamental numbers continue to be as grim as they now are, the desire to change course will deepen; and the more that longing intensifies, the lower the bar Mitt Romney will have to clear.

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