The spin from the cable talking heads that President Obama will win re-election is moving faster than Iranian centrifuges. For many analysts this is an attractive alternative thesis given their partisan and ideological preferences. But even level-headed and more neutral commentators are being drawn into the gravitational field.
The theory goes that since Obama repositioned himself last fall, he has reframed the election about jobs, social justice and Republican intransigence – themes for his base and independents. And, of course, he’s been hugely helped by a gradually improving economy and the Republican primary.
But, there is still considerable evidence that voters haven’t moved much off of their view that Obama has been a disappointment and things are still not reliably going in the right direction.
Gallup’s latest approval average for Obama for the month of February is 45 percent approve and 47 percent disapprove, keeping him clearly in the grey area for re-election.
Obama has been above 50 percent in approval only once since February 2010 (the May 2011 shooting of Osama bin Laden).
Gallup notes it is extremely unusual for an incumbent president to not receive a 50 percent approval at least a few times in their first term, if not routinely
Voters still overwhelmingly believe the country is moving in the wrong direction and that the economy, while improving (40% say it’s growing), is still the top issue, with 46 percent describing it as in a recession or depression.
And, for all the commentary on how the Republican primaries are hurting the candidates, Republican partisans are still more enthusiastic about voting in 2012 than Democrats (53% Republicans to 45% for Democrats). Obviously, with the end of the primaries and an acceptable, if not thrilling, nominee, Republican enthusiasm should increase.
The message is that this election has the potential to be within a couple of points and decided by the quality of the campaigns and any late game changing circumstances.