Experts begin to doubt Obama’s re-electability

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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Where’s the evidence President Obama can win the 2012 election?

Where’s the evidence that swing voters even want to listen to him?

Barack Obama polls below 50 percent in every state that matters. The economy has stalled, unemployment is much higher than the official number of 9 percent, and Hispanics and African Americans are disappointed. The president’s approval ratings have tanked, and the right-track/wrong-track number fell of the cliff in the summer.

Obama has reached the stage of political doom when voters’ disappointment is so deep that they just don’t want to listen to him, talk about him or watch him, said David Hill, a veteran GOP strategist and pollster, in an interview with The Daily Caller.

“Nobody says it to their loved ones … [and] they don’t want to do anything about it,” said Hill, who has worked for conservative and liberal Republicans on the East Coast, the West Coast and in the Midwest, since 1984.

A tipping point might have been reached in August, when the monthly jobs report showed zero new jobs, Republican pollster Glenn Bolger told TheDC. “With [George W.] Bush, it happened sometime in 2006, after Katrina and the 2005 Iraq situation,” said Bolger, who heads the polling firm Public Opinion Strategies.

Even Obama-friendly experts are close to dismissing him.

Gallup numbers show the president’s approval at 41 percent, and show him trailing an unnamed “generic Republican” by eight percentage points, National Journal’s Charlie Cook wrote on Oct. 28. “These numbers certainly don’t show Obama’s reelection fortunes as hopeless, but they paint a very challenging situation.”

“Nobody’s gotten elected with these kinds of numbers,” James Carville, the Democratic Party’s snapping turtle, told a radio interviewer Oct. 25. “Everything worries me … I profoundly admit that,” he said on Scott Hennen’s show.

Even Bill Daley, the president’s chief of staff, is hoping for a secular miracle. “I don’t think it’s outside the realm of possibility that we have a stronger attitude around the economy … just the beginning of a psychological change,” he told Politico on Oct. 28. “That is the biggest thing. What are the factors that [will create] that? Who knows?…. you can just feel this electorate is very volatile.”

Even if there is a turnaround,  Hill told TheDC, “there has been such a long and steady and consistent loss of affection for him it would be very difficult to give him credit … I don’t think they’ll be listening.”

Back in 1992, the stalled economy roared into life in the last quarter before President George H.W. Bush faced the electorate. But voters didn’t notice the 5.6 percent growth until President Bill Clinton was inaugurated in January 1993.

It is true that Obama is running above Jimmy Carter’s approval numbers, that the GOP candidates haven’t excited swing-voters and that a wealthy RINO Republican liberal — perhaps a certain former Utah governor — might yet run as a GOP-splitting independent candidate.

But Obama’s right-track/wrong-track numbers are horrible.

Only 16 percent of Americans believe the country is on the right track, down from 32 percent last October, according to Rasmussen Reports. Whatever percent of swing-voting independents continue to believe the country is on the wrong track will pull the the GOP lever in November 2012.

The same plummet of optimism is splashed throughout state polls. An August poll of 600 Michigan voters conducted by the Lansing-based EPIC-MRA, reported that only 14 percent think the country is on the right track, down from 25 percent the in firm’s July sample.

The public is even more pessimistic than during Carter’s final dive. In November 1979, just 19 percent of Americans said they were satisfied “with the way things are going in the country.” Today, that score is 11 percent.

“No president gets re-elected when 70 or 65 percent say the nation’s heading in the wrong direction — it just doesn’t happen,” Hill explained.

Obama seems to share some of that pessimism. He told donors at a September fundraiser that “this is a great, great country that had gotten a little soft and, you know, we didn’t have that same competitive edge that we needed over the last couple of decades.”

“That is amazingly poor judgement,” Bolger told TheDC. “‘I’m not successful right now, so it must be your fault,’ that’s what’s he saying.”

Obama isn’t finished, say his supporters. They point to polls that show him ahead of named Republicans, or surveys showing his calls for higher taxes getting majority support.

Overall, Obama’s strategy is to use his war chest to paint his eventual GOP opponent as untrustworthy, out of touch and unacceptable, and to win a man-to-man, knock-down, drag-out mud fight in a few critical swing states. The election, say Democrats, will be a choice, not a referendum on Obama’s record.

Hill, though, isn’t convinced. “He’s lost credibility on managing the economy of the nation,” he said. “I don’t know why people would have confidence in his critique of his opponent; ‘He’s telling me Mitt Romney is a moron?’ … it’s going to be very tough sale.”

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