GRIMNESS FOR OBAMA – AT 11:18 A.M. ET: Democratic pollster Peter Hart, a highly respected follower of political opinion, has a grim warning for President Obama – that the president's chances in the upcoming election are no better than 50-50. From the Los Angeles Times:
“This election is no better than a 50-50 proposition for the president,” concludes Hart, basing that on his polling, focus-group discussions and personal conversations with professional pols.
Like others who have been watching the campaign up close, he perceives an electorate that is “wanting wholesale change for the fourth election in a row.” Comparing 2012 to 1992 -- the last time a president was unseated -- he notes that economic confidence, as measured by the latest University of Michigan Consumer Confidence Index, is at 76. It was 77 when the first president Bush was headed for defeat.
Hart’s advice to election-watchers: Don’t lose sight of the basics -- how voters feel about the direction of the country and the economy. Importantly, he says, Mitt Romney’s poll numbers are better than Obama’s when voters are asked which man has good ideas for how to improve the economy.
Voter enthusiasm and commitment are also on the Republican side, at least for now. “The candidate may be ‘fired up and ready-to-go,’” he writes.
But Hart has a warning for Romney as well:
On the flip side, Obama’s message of economic balance and fairness (which Hart and Bill McInturff, his Republican counterpart on the NBC/Journal surveys, tested without the president’s name attached) gives the president a decided advantage by reaching across partisan lines. Romney’s message, on the other hand, “captures only core Republican voters. ... In a challenging economy, this provides an important toehold for the president, and it is one the Romney campaign does not have an answer for.”
Another challenge facing Romney: likability. A presidential ballot “is the single most personal vote a person can cast,” Hart believes. And with few exceptions, the candidate who is more appealing on a personal level usually wins. Romney lags Obama, often by wide margins, on compassion, consistency, caring about average people, honesty and straightforwardness.
But if voters connect Romney’s business expertise with their desire to see someone manage government finances, the Republican “will have a powerful pair of issues working for him.”
COMMENT: I think Hart is perceptive. Romney must work on his image. Clearly, the Dem attack machine is trying to portray him as cold, even cruel. The MSM will help as much as it can. Witness the Washington Post's hit piece portraying Romney as a bully in high school, about a half century ago.
Obama's "likability" has always been greatly exaggerated. Actually, he strikes me as chilly, distant, and uncaring. But he manages to come off as our chum, which he ain't.
This election is up for grabs. Romney did a masterful job of handling the primaries, although the field wasn't particularly strong. In Obama he's up against one of the great retail politicians of our time. And he must win, for the sake of all of us.
May 13, 2012