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Why Obama’s Reelection Road Is Getting Harder

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President Barack Obama on his Midwest Bus Tour.

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Obama’s approval ratings are down in all demographic groups, including many that will be critical to his re-election efforts, writes Nate Silver: “This should not be surprising: the unhappiness with Mr. Obama is not a matter of small-bore, constituency-based politics. Instead, it revolves around more fundamental areas like the economy, questions about the efficacy of his leadership, and an overall gloominess about the direction of the country, issues which transcend demographic and partisan boundaries. Breaking down an approval ratings decline in this fashion can sometimes create the false impression that a president is dying by a thousand cuts, when his problems instead usually revolve around no more than two or three major issues.” [FiveThirtyEight/NYT]

Obama’s best hope for reelection is to boldly confront the Republicans with popular ideas that are hard to vote against: “Obama must work on two tracks – one idealistic, the other practical. The moment calls for him to offer a big vision for how to fix the economy, even if it doesn’t have a prayer of passage. Then he should unveil smaller actions that could win congressional approval, plus a few imaginative executive orders that might let him move the needle on employment unilaterally. I’m told by the White House that contrary to House Speaker John Boehner’s claims, Obama did send Boehner a short paper that detailed trillions in savings during their unsuccessful “grand bargain” negotiations in July, but it was never released publicly. This plan will be.” [Bloomberg]

Rick Perry has overtaken Michele Bachmann as the GOP candidate with the most buzz, at least as measured by Twitter stats: “The Minnesota congresswoman, fresh off her victory in the all-important Ames Straw Poll, seems to have gotten lost in the shuffle in recent days. Rather than getting a bump from her big win, she’s been getting bumped out of the picture by Texas Gov. Rick Perry.
A look at the Twitter statistics tells the story. While the terms ‘Rick Perry’ and ‘Michele Bachmann’ were getting roughly the same number of mentions throughout July, Perry has taken off in August in a way that Bachmann hasn’t. He has had more than 4,000 mentions each day of this week, while Bachmann cracked 2,000 mentions just once – the day she won the straw poll… The problem is that Bachmann is no longer the buzziest candidate in the race. And that could be damaging to her campaign. Bachmann’s campaign was built on buzz. As the rest of the GOP presidential field left many Republicans voters uninspired and looking for alternatives — and as other candidates like Mitt Romney quietly bided their time – she filled that gap and got the media attention that went along with it.” [Washington Post]

Rick Perryis more extreme than George W. Bush, writes Michael Tomasky: “Rick Perry has traded in [George W. Bush’s] dog whistle for an air-raid siren. He wants everyone to hear, loud and clear. His is the most right-wing presidential candidacy by a ‘serious’ contender since I don’t know when (Warren Harding? But he pardoned Eugene Debs!). Have we really reached the point where reveling in conservative hatreds and revenge fantasies can get a man elected president? Bush—and it leaves me speechless that he’s starting to look reasonable by comparison with the current crop of GOP presidential hopefuls—was hardly apologetic about his political views. But he and Karl Rove did have the sense to know when they were throwing gasoline on the domestic fire, and they did it in smallish doses. You might be able to Google up the odd careless quote from Bush about something like global warming, but in general, and especially on the occasions when he knew his words were being very closely watched, he steered well clear of extremism.” [The Daily Beast]

Rick Perry’s Texas schtik is beginning to worry his fellow Republicans: “Cut the cowboy talk. That’s the message congressional Republicans facing the prospect of sharing a ballot next year with Rick Perry have for the newest GOP presidential candidate… Republican members of Congress are overwhelmingly undecided about who they want to be the party’s standard-bearer. But they’re certain about two things they don’t want: a nominee who could drag down their own prospects and the wrath of local activists who would be unhappy if their congressman picked a candidate whom they don’t like.” [Politico]

The White House is the GOP’s to lose, says Charlie Cook — something they’re quite capable of doing: “On one hand, we have an incumbent president with dismally low job-approval ratings … presiding over an enormously weak and worsening economy. This is a combination sufficiently bad to prevent any president’s reelection. On the other hand, we have an opposing party whose center of gravity and energy levels have swung so far to one side of the ideological spectrum as to have been designed to alienate the independent and swing voters, the people who will effectively decide this presidential election. To put it more simply, this election is the Republican Party’s to lose, and yet, they may pull it off, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.” [National Journal]



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