If Obama loses by the landslide I have been predicting — and he will — his undoing started in June.
At the end of 2011, Obama’s approval ratings rarely rose above 45% and occasionally dropped as low as 40% in the daily tracking polls of both Gallup (registered voters) and Rasmussen (likely voters). But, as 2012 dawned, his approval gradually rose to 49-50 percent on the strength of a perception of economic recovery. Monthly job creation solidly above 200,000 and dropping first time unemployment claims fueled the heady sense that we were emerging from the Great Recession at last.
But, as we noted in Take Back America and Revolt!, debt implosion crises are often characterized by false dawns – periods where the data looks up and people come to believe the recovery is, at last, underway. But the optimism fades as does the recovery. The only way out is to cut spending and borrowing so the world’s panic at the high levels of global indebtedness can be eased.
By April and May, it became clear that there was no recovery underway as the monthly total of new jobs dipped first below 200,000 and then below even 100,000. Unemployment rose to 8.2% and the data from the first quarter indicated a growth rate of only 1.9 percent, well below the 3 percent pace at which the GDP had been growing in the last quarter of 2011.
Voters didn’t need the statistics to remind them that the economy was not in recovery. Foreclosures, layoffs, and long-term unemployment told the story in their own daily lives.
So, in June, Obama’s job approval fell back to its 2011 levels of 45 percent or less. Romney opened up a lead in Gallup’s daily tracking of registered voters and his lead among Rasmussen’s sample of likely voters grew to 48-43.
Obama’s verbal gaffes (“the private sector is doing fine”) and his ongoing battles with Congress which have led to the potential of a contempt citation helped spur his drop in the polls. The Scott Walker victory in Wisconsin gave those who were watching with open minds a foretaste of the dimensions of the coming GOP landslide.
Now, Obama faces a double hit: a possible Congressional contempt citation for his Attorney-General and the looming Supreme Court decision on Obamacare. And then will come June’s likely dismal jobs report which will be released at the end of next week.
More disturbing for Obama is that his June swoon happened despite spending at least $50 million and likely much more on paid advertising during May and June. He threw his best punch – an attack on Romney’s record at Bain Capital – and got nothing for it.
Even conventional observers are now noting the chances for a Republican victory. We’ll see and hear more of that as the summer progresses.