The latest unemployment numbers say that President Obama is in trouble in November. The latest poll numbers indicate otherwise. That leads to the question: who’s in more trouble with the economic numbers and the polling information turning as it has over recent weeks?
Looking at the economic numbers that have come out over the past few weeks, one could easily conclude that President Obama is in deep trouble coming to “convention season” and the general election campaign.
GDP growth over the last quarter was weak once again. Job growth is higher than expected yet much lower than what is needed. The unemployment rate – once hoped to have stayed capped at 8% after the president’s stimulus package – now sits at 8.3%. For minorities in America, unemployment rates are in the double digits.
Yet, with all of the bad economic numbers, controversies swirling around the “Fast and Furious” debacle and other high-profile issues hammering this administration over the past 4 years, the path is clear for a Republican presidential candidate to overtake President Obama for the White House starting in January 2013.
In polls leading up to former Governor Mitt Romney’s ascension as the Republican nominee, that generic Republican presidential candidate was regularly beating Mr. Obama in the polls.
Yet, that doesn’t seem to be the case now, as evidenced in recent polls coming from several key battleground states. In contrast, surveyed voters seem to trust Mr. Romney over President Obama when it comes to turning around this economy, especially after 4 years of a lagging recovery under the 44th president.
Economic numbers indicate that Romney will have the clear advantage going into the fall. The polls show Obama with a 6-point lead despite those disappointing figures.
What gives? And, better still: who’s in the driver’s seat, considering the paradox from our economic performance and polling?
It is easy to pick sides and explain why one candidate has a harder case to make to the American people over another during the next 90 days or so. Generally, that would come down to the candidate (or political party) one is more likely to support in the fall election. However, the clear message behind this interesting political development is that the practice of high-intensity political messaging has only begun.
With this race as close as it is at this point, the anomalies that continue from trend-breaking and history-making facts and figures in 2012 only illustrate the willingness of the campaigns to push their message in order to shape public opinion. There is no clear cut trend on-going that has a precedent backing it. Therefore, the only way to glean which candidate is in command with his message, persona, and campaign implementation as the true lead dog this fall is to listen intently to how each candidate position matches up directly with the competition.
At this point, both camps have woes that can’t be ignored or overlooked based on the latest numbers this week. For the incumbent president, the ongoing economic disappointments likely prompted President Obama to get serious about particular fringe issues for his base in 2012 – from immigration to education for Black America and gay marriage – only when pushed by ongoing bad polling figures and worse unemployment numbers since the 2010 mid-term losses Democrats endured. For the challenger, the ongoing lag in the polls prompts Governor Romney to pull together a modified strategy that hopes to do more than merely highlight the economic peril of the nation, as that does not seem to be enough to make Americans vote against President Obama and place Mr. Romney into the White House in January. For both, the numbers probably translate into the overall lack of inspiration that more Americans are feeling from either candidate and perhaps the American set of politicians at this juncture.
If the numbers continue to play out over the fall as they are now, there is a good possibility that a candidate is more likely to lose the presidential election than a candidate is in actually winning it with the strength of his record, the success of this candidacy, and the trust he has built between the nation and himself over the next 90 days. That may make it harder for us to gauge who is actually in first as we head into the fall – and make it harder for us to gauge if we are in better position to win as a nation after this election starting in 2013.
LENNY MCALLISTER is a senior contributor to Politic 365 featured on outlets including CNN Newsroom, CNN’s “Early Start”, Current TV “The Young Turks”, and XM Radio. His new book, “Spoken Thoughts of an Amalgamated Advocate in Today’s America” is now available electronically on Kindle and in paperback on Amazon.com . Catch Lenny’s “The McAllister Minute” on The American Urban Radio Network this week and other latest via the new LennyMcAllister.com website.