By Dave Andrusko
What a week. As potential Republican challengers to pro-abortion President Barack Obama make their decisions (in just the last two days pro-life Mike Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas, and real estate mogul Donald Trump dropped out while former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich ended speculation by entering the competition), speculation runs amuck.
On the question of which GOPer (announced or anticipated) benefits most from Gov. Huckabee’s decision, there are as many opinions as there are commentators. On the other hand, the media herd (for the most part) has persuaded itself that President Obama is in a solid position to be re-elected. Let’s see if that’s true.
The primary evidence is not the “bounce” in the polls that Obama enjoyed following the death of Osama Bin Laden. That’s evaporating.
It’s two other factors. Obama’s prodigious capacity to raise money and a recent Politico-George Washington University Battleground poll. That poll showed 59% of those surveyed said they will either “definitely” vote for the president or “consider” reelecting him compared to 38% who said they definitely will not vote to reelect Obama.
But if you take a second to look at the raw numbers, only 30% will definitely vote for him (versus 38% who will definitely not vote to reelect him). Another 29% will “consider” voting for Obama. This is NOT the show of support various media reports make the poll out to be.
Let’s jump around a bit and see what we can see. Gallup’s latest numbers are only a few days old. They don’t ask about re-election but Gallup does report that as of May 13, Obama’s approval rating was back at 46%. If that were George Bush’s numbers, we would hear how “weak” he was.
Arguably among the very best indices of a President’s fortunes is the response to the question is the country on the right track. A whopping 60% of the 1,000 registered voters queried said they believe the country is on the wrong track.
But is that just Republicans? How about Independents? Sixty percent say wrong track.
What’s most interesting is that almost everyone agrees the state of the economy will play a huge role in how strong/weak Obama is next year. The numbers show “widespread disapproval of Barack Obama’s handling of the economy,” in the words of Andy Barr, writing for Politico.
Only 42% approved while 57% disapproved of his handling of the economy, a 15% difference. But because—for now—52% say they approve of Obama’s handling of his job, Obama is described as “surprisingly immune to economic fears.” But as we just noted, Gallup’s response shows 6% less approval.
How about Rasmussen, which polls daily? “Overall, 50% of voters say they at least somewhat approve of the president’s performance. Forty-nine percent (49%) disapprove.” Again “somewhat” approve is not a ringing endorsement.
To return for a second to the Politico-George Washington University Battleground results, which was conducted by the Democratic firm Lake Research Partners and the Tarrance Group, a Republican polling firm. You would expect the Republican—in this case Ed Goeas—to highlight the negatives.
But having said that, his observations about the impact of ObamaCare are either right or they aren’t. Here’s what Goeas wrote for Politico:
On the legislative front, even the signature legislative accomplishment of President Obama – health care reform – might be more of a burden than an asset in the coming Presidential campaign. A plurality (49%) of voters favor repealing and replacing this law, including a majority of Republicans (70%) and a plurality (48%) of Independents. The President will face real challenges even in attempting to use this law for base mobilization. As one would expect, majorities of Republicans (80%) and Independents (50%) believe that this law goes too far. However, pluralities of “hard” Democrats (47%) and liberals (47%) believe that this does not go far enough. The President may have won a legislative victory on this issue, but he will struggle to find a political victory with it.
My point is a simple one. Having lots of money—and the capacity to raise tons more—is an asset for President Obama. For now, the absence of a clear-cut Republican challenger is a help as well.
But politics can and does turn on a dime. When Republicans coalesce around their pro-life presidential nominee, the underlying factors that are nagging at the public will be brought front and center.