“The cake is baked. Barack Obama will be a one-term president.”
That is the line Michele Bachmann used frequently on the campaign trail in 2011. The most notable use of the line came at the CNN presidential debate in Las Vegas in October of 2011. Bachmann used the line to stop Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, and Rick Santorum from squabbling over who is the best candidate in the field to take on President Obama in the fall of 2012.
Bachmann was making a statement that reflected the sentiment of many Republicans then and now – that President Obama’s first term has been a disaster, everyone knows it, and there is no conceivable way that he will be elected to a second term. She used the line in the debate to basically remind her opponents that the issue isn’t defeating President Obama, it’s who we replace him with.
Bachmann made the statement when nearly 52 percent of Americans said they disapproved of the job that President Obama was doing. In addition to the President’s poor job approval numbers, the unemployment rate was 8.9 percent, down from its all time high of ten percent, but still incredibly high. The Republican argument against President Obama was at its strongest, and it was difficult to see how the President could turn things around.
A year is an eternity in politics, and President Obama and his campaign team made good use of the time. With Republicans in control of the U.S. House of Representatives, the Obama agenda that brought us healthcare reform, stimulus spending, and threatened to bring us cap and trade legislation, was halted.
Over time, President Obama’s numbers have improved. They are far from great, but nowhere near the poor numbers he was experiencing a year ago. Obama also benefitted from a slowly improving unemployment rate. A year ago the unemployment rate was 9.1 percent, today it’s at 8.1 percent. Not great, but there has been improvement.
Even though most Republican activists struggle with the notion that President Obama could be re-elected, head-to-head polls between the President and Mitt Romney have shown Obama with the advantage for quite some time. Romney has only led Obama in the Real Clear Politics poll average once, and that was in October of 2011. Last week, Romney tied Obama in the Real Clear Politics poll average, but the latest polls give the President a lead once again.
The latest national poll from CNN doesn’t have any good news in it for Romney. President Obama leads Romney 52 percent to 46 percent. When Libertarian Gary Johnson is included, Obama leads 51 percent to 43 percent. Obama’s six-point lead over Romney isn’t insurmountable, but the poll is also full of other troubling signs for Romney.
One of the more interesting questions was whether people are voting for a candidate or against their opponent. The poll shows that 74 percent of respondents were voting for Obama, while 23 percent were casting a vote against Romney. Meanwhile, only 48 percent of respondents said that theirs was a vote for Romney, while 47 percent admitted that they were voting against President Obama.
The poll also shows President Obama leading Romney on a number of issues. Respondents were given issues, and for each one, told to say whether President Obama or Mitt Romney would better handle that issue. Voters chose Obama in all subjects but one, the budget deficit.
On the economy, Obama leads Romney 50 percent to 49 percent.
On foreign policy, Obama leads Romney 54 percent to 42 percent.
On foreign Medicare, Obama leads Romney 54 percent to 43 percent.
On the budget deficit, Romney leads Obama 50 percent to 47 percent.
On taxes, Obama leads Romney 51 percent to 46 percent.
On healthcare, Obama leads Romney 54 percent to 45 percent.
On energy policy, Obama leads Romney 51 percent to 44 percent.
On education, Obama leads Romney 59 percent to 38 percent.
On unemployment, Obama leads Romney 51 percent to 47 percent.
Even though this is just one national poll, seeing Romney trail on issue after issue is demoralizing. With less than 60 days until people go to the polls, the Romney campaign is in desperate need of a game-changing event.
Fortunately for the Romney campaign, we don’t elect presidents by the national popular vote. It is also good news is that Romney is competitive in all of the battleground states. The bad news is that he currently only leads in two of the twelve battleground states.
While some Republican activists may still believe that Obama’s goose is cooked, the data shows us otherwise. Romney and Republicans are in a dogfight, and the clock is working against them. Maybe instead of playing Kid Rock’s “Born Free” at rallies, Romney should begin playing Jerry Reed’s theme song to Smokey and the Bandit. As the song goes, “we’ve got a long way to go and a short time to get there.”
Photo by Dave Davidson – Prezography.com
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