Is Obama's Re-election Bid Already in "Deep Trouble?"
Toby Harnden of the Mail Online thinks so, and he's backed up the proposition with a pretty interesting analysis.
First, let's get this crack about how compliant Republicans are out of the way:
Despite the very recent and ugly and negative primaries, Romney's struggle with conservatives and the relative difficulty he had in overcoming a lacklustre field, Republicans - who tend to fall in line more readily than Democrats [emphasis mine]- are already uniting behind him.
If only! I'd say Democrats are much more conformist than Republicans. Who is the serious third party candidate threatening Obama's re-election chances, hm? Is Ralph Nader making noises, as if it would matter? Meanwhile, we've got the "I won't vote for a statist" Gary Johnson supporters. The "end the fed!" Ron Paul supporters. And the "anyone but Romney" dreamers, which was my affiliation until recently.
No, Herndon has this exactly backward. Left-wingers are famous for their group-think, while mouthing campaign slogans about the revolutionary "Change!" they envision. What they mean is, by some miracle of human agency, they're going to change immutable human nature. Meanwhile, their policies amount to nothing which wasn't tried under Wilson, or Roosevelt, or LBJ. "Let's change by trying this all over again!"
Really, I think whichever party is out of power has an easier time uniting, but it's still significantly harder for Republicans than Democrats.
Back to Obama's "deep trouble:"
Drill down into the numbers of the latest CBS poll and there are ominous signs for Obama. Only 33 percent of Americans believe the economy is moving in the right direction. A mere 16 percent feel they are getting ahead financially. Some 38 percent think their situation will get worse if Obama is re-elected, 26 percent think it will get better. [emphasis mine]
Only 16 percent of Americans are completely out of touch with reality. This is bad news for Obama. The rest of us understand that when the Treasury spins roughly 7 trillion dollars off the printing presses like Rumpelstiltskin's room full of straw-spun gold, except without the added value, you're lucky to be maintaining the value of your assets. And -12 on "will you be better off if Obama is re-elected?" is a pretty steep incline for Obama to overcome, no matter how much assistance he gets from the media in fabricating a recovery. People live in the real world, not the one made up by the New York Times.
Herndon does a brief analysis of incumbent versus challenger history, concluding that Obama will try to do to Romney the supposed "Swiftboating" job Bush did on Kerry. I'd say he's half-right. Obama will do anything to try to impugn Romney's character.
Obama will keep trying to talk about something, anything other than the economy - contraception and dogs being the most recent examples - but Romney has the relatively straightforward task of being disciplined enough to talk relentlessly about jobs and the economy.
However, I think the distinction he tries to make between Bush's victory over Kerry and Obama's campaign against Romney is a distinction without a difference. He suggests that Bush beat Kerry because he managed to make the race about Kerry's (deeply?) flawed character rather than a referendum on Bush's record. But, really, it's always about the incumbent. Voters elected Bush in 2004 because they didn't believe he was a bad as liberal media portrayed him, making Kerry an unnecessary change of leadership.
The inverse applies to Obama, which Herndon understands.
If you viewed all this solely through the prism of media coverage and listened just to Washington pundits, you'd conclude that Obama has about an 80 percent chances of victory. In reality, his chances are much closer to 50:50, perhaps even with Romney holding an advantage (though many things can and will happen in six months).
Obama isn't as good as the supine media believes. And with Romney's turn-around record and the nation's economic reality being lived by the voters, together with the basic decency of the man, I think voters will see Romney not just as an acceptable alternative to Obama, but a necessary one.