With President Obama now in full campaign mode, the question becomes: Can he win re-election despite some misgivings from the vast majority of the American people? A new Marist College-McClatchy poll delivers this bad news to the president: Sixty-four percent of Americans now think the country is moving in the wrong direction, while just 31 percent believe the USA is on the right track. That is the highest “wrong direction” number since November of 2007, when the country was heading into a deep recession.
In normal times, that kind of poll number would be catastrophic for a president about to enter the re-election season. But these are not normal times. A new Washington Post/ABC News poll says that despite the country’s dour mood, Obama would still beat every single Republican who’s showed any interest in running. Mitt Romney provides the closest challenge, but he still loses in the survey — 49 percent to 45 percent.
Of course, polls are just snapshots in time, and the truth is that anything could happen in the election of 2012.
The president’s main problem is the economy, including the massive debt his administration is running up. Few believe that Obama is serious about cutting entitlement spending, and with gas prices exploding, the folks are getting hammered. This week, the president blamed speculators for the oil debacle, and he’s right. But what’s he going to do about it?
Flogging the “tax the rich” mantra is not going to work this time. With Standard and Poor’s warning that America’s Triple-A bond rating may be in jeopardy, the spending madness must be arrested, or our entire way of life will be threatened. Once U.S. bonds are downgraded, it will become much more expensive to borrow the trillions needed to fund the entitlement society that Democrats, including Obama, extol.
Republicans should be all over this, and to some extent, they are. But the GOP lacks a charismatic leader and a united front. The tea party folks are hell bent on changing everything right now. Compromise is looked upon as weakness in those precincts. But independent voters are not as strident. And the GOP needs those indies to win.
Bomb-throwers like Donald Trump and Sarah Palin get a lot of attention, but neither fares well against the president in the polls. That, of course, could change, but any third-party run by a conservative would ensure Obama’s re-election. Liberal Americans will rally around the president no matter what he does. The same cannot be said for the Republican Party. The primaries will be bruising.
All of this makes for an exciting election season. The polls may be dreadful for Obama, but his competition remains in disarray. Meanwhile, many people are waiting patiently for somebody to save the country. That’s where we are right now, and it’s not a great place to be.