Obama's weak positives
In pundit circles, the hot talking point of the past couple of months is that President Obama may be spared defeat because things have been bad for so long that Americans may view the country’s parlous condition as “the new normal.”
This is an honest effort to make sense of polling data that are hard to reconcile with what we know about voters in the past and their attitudes toward sitting presidents during economic woes.
No postwar president has been re-elected with unemployment above 7.4 percent; the unemployment rate is now 8.1 percent. No president has been re-elected with a significant majority of Americans saying the country is on the wrong track; that number’s between three-fifths and two-thirds of all Americans. No president’s been re-elected with the Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index below 90; it’s hovering around 70.
Most important, no president has been re-elected with a job-approval rating below 50 percent; as of yesterday, the Real Clear Politics poll of polls had Obama just below 49 percent.
By those lights, Obama should be finished, and many (yes, that includes me) assumed he would be by now. But he isn’t. He leads by a couple of points in the national polls. Surely there must be an explanation for it, and the “new normal” theory seems as good an explanation as any.
Except that logic dictates Obama can’t have it both ways. If he’s not blamed for bad news that’s been around a few years, it seems unlikely he stands to gain much from what little good news he has to trumpet during his presidency. ...