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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Obama 2012 and Bush 2004

Richard W. Stevenson writes at The New York Times that the Obama team has figured out that Karl Rove was pretty smart after all:
Can Mr. Obama overcome the bad economy, and perhaps even turn it to his advantage in certain ways, in the same way President George W. Bush overcame and in a sense turned to his advantage the bloody, expensive and increasingly unpopular war in Iraq eight years ago?

And can Mr. Obama do to his opponent – for now let’s say Mitt Romney – what Mr. Bush did to Senator John Kerry in 2004?

The parallels are sufficient enough that Mr. Obama and his team have studied, and to a striking degree are replicating, the Bush re-election playbook.

Already they are building a narrative in which Mr. Obama made politically brave decisions to do what was right for the economy, even if those decisions were unpopular. It’s a theme that echoes Mr. Bush’s argument in 2004 that he did what it took to keep the country safe, and that even if you disagreed with him, you knew where he stood.

As for defining the opponent, Mr. Obama’s supporters are already hard at work hammering home the idea that Mr. Romney is an inveterate flip-flopper, a man without core or convictions who says and does whatever is necessary to advance his political interests. It’s an approach that bears a passing similarity to the Bush re-election campaign’s efforts to paint Mr. Kerry as an inveterate flip-flopper, a man with core or convictions who. … You get the idea.
But the circumstances are very different. In the fall of 2003, Bush's Gallup approval ratings ranged between 50 and 63 percent. By comparison, Gallup reports today:
President Barack Obama's 11th quarter in office was the worst of his administration, based on his quarterly average job approval ratings. His 41% approval average is down six percentage points from his 10th quarter in office, and is nearly four points below his previous low of 45% during his seventh quarter.

These results are based on Gallup Daily tracking from July 20-Oct. 19, 2011. During this time, Obama's approval rating ranged narrowly between 38% and 43% for all but a few days of the quarter. The 38% approval ratings, registered on several occasions, are the lowest of his presidency to date.

Other numbers also bode ill for the president. Reuters reports:
An unofficial gauge of human misery in the United States rose last month to a 28-year high as Americans struggled with rising inflation and high unemployment.

The misery index -- which is simply the sum of the country's inflation and unemployment rates -- rose to 13.0, pushed up by higher price data the government reported on Wednesday.

The data underscores the extent that Americans continue to suffer even two years after a deep recession ended, with a weak economic recovery imperiling President Barack Obama's hopes of winning reelection next year.
And at the Christian Science Monitor, Ron Scherer reports a number that will outweigh just about anything the Obama campaign could say:

Think life is not as good as it used to be, at least in terms of your wallet? You'd be right about that. The standard of living for Americans has fallen longer and more steeply over the past three years than at any time since the US government began recording it five decades ago.

Bottom line: The average individual now has $1,315 less in disposable income than he or she did three years ago at the onset of the Great Recession – even though the recession ended, technically speaking, in mid-2009. That means less money to spend at the spa or the movies, less for vacations, new carpeting for the house, or dinner at a restaurant.