Can Mitt Romney beat Barack Obama?

Count me among those that believe Mitt Romney — or any Republican, for that matter — will have a tough time defeating Barack Obama in the fall. It’s not that Romney can’t win, but his lackluster primary campaign doesn’t exactly bode well for his future.

Whether conservatives want to admit it or not, Romney is probably their best hope for beating Obama. The only other candidate that was running close with him was Ron Paul, who never had a real shot at being the nominee. There is little doubt, however, that this election is going to be close, as Gallup’s first tracking poll indicated yesterday:

For all the pessimism, Obama’s number still aren’t that great. The Washington Examiner noted yesterday that his numbers are worse than Gerald Ford’s, who was going up against Jimmy Carter in 1976, at the same point in the campaign. And with a still-slow economy, high unemployment, and a river of red ink still flowing from Washington, Obama is going to throw everything he can at Romney to keep attention of him and his poor number.

Of course, we still have more than six months to go until election day, and anything can and will happen. But for Republicans that believe Romney can’t take down Obama, this should be a bright spot.

Another polls shows high gas prices could hurt Obama

On Friday, I noted that polls indicated that Americans are growed incresingly concerned with high gas prices, which may influence their votes, at the same time President Barack Obama lobbied Congress to kill the Keystone XL pipeline. This fact is highlighted by a new survey from Gallup that shows that his do-nothing approach to gas prices may be a factor in the fall:

Concern over the price of fuel has taken on an increasingly important role in the campaign cycle, and a new poll shows 65 percent of Americans hold President Obama and Congress responsible for rising gas prices.

A majority of both Republicans and Democrats said they believe Obama and Congress can “do things to keep price of gas from rising,” according to a new poll by Gallup.
Thirty-one percent surveyed said they believe the rising price of gas is “largely beyond their control.” But 85 percent of those surveyed pushed for Obama and Congress to take some immediate action to control the rising price of gas, indicating a high level of concern.

President Obama has paid lip-service on the rising cost of gas, but he’ll no doubt target oil companies as the villian, much like many of his fellow Democrats want to do with their so-called “Reasonable Profits Board.” He’ll likely target their tax breaks once again, though those tax breaks aren’t at all significant, and want to give more money for alternative energy sources that already receive substantial breaks.

A closer look at February jobs numbers

The jobs numbers for February were certainly good news. In case you missed it, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that, while the unemployment rate held steady at 8.3%, businesses created some 227,000 jobs last month.

Given that a Gallup survey released before the BLS numbers were made available showed unemployment at 9.1%, many are wondering why there is such a discrepancy. Over at the Washington Examiner, Tim Carney explains:

Both Gallup and the BLS use randomized surveys to produce estimates of the current state of the labor market. Gallup calls 30,000 people every month over the span of the entire month. BLS conducts 60,000 interviews a month (both face-to-face and over the phone), but conducts them all in one week. More importantly, however, the BLS uses a model to smooth their raw numbers out to account for seasonal swings in the labor market. Gallup does not.
[E]very January the U.S. economy sheds more than million a jobs as retailers let people go after the Christmas shopping season. There is another smaller drop off in the summer as kids leave their summer jobs and return to school.
The BLS does include a seasonally adjusted unemployment number in each report. For February it is 8.7 percent, which is still below Gallup’s 9.1 percent number. Why?

Every month reporters usually mention two numbers from the BLS: the number of jobs created/lost and the unemployment rate. Most people assume that the unemployment rate is a function of the jobs number. It’s not. The BLS creates both numbers from completely different surveys.

GOP has voter enthusiasm on its side

While President Barack Obama is leading his possible Republican competitors in head-to-head matchups in most polls, a new Gallup poll shows that the GOP still has an important advantage in voter enthusiasm:

By 53% to 45%, Republicans, including independents who lean Republican, are slightly more likely than Democrats and Democratic leaners to say they are “more enthusiastic than usual about voting” this year. Republicans have consistently led Democrats in voting enthusiasm since last fall, but to varying degrees.

Enthusiasm About Voting in 2012 Presidential Election -- Trend by Party ID

The 53% of Republicans who feel more enthusiastic about voting today — as Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum are engaged in a pitched nomination battle — is greater than the 44% found in February 2008 when John McCain and Mike Huckabee were still dueling in the primaries.

This poll really means nothing this early on, but is an indicator that Republicans are motivated to out Obama. And for all of the talk about a brokered convention or supporters of one candidate threatening not to vote for another, I’m willing to bet that this will quiet down the closer we get to the fall as ousting Obama will become a common objective.

Gallup: “It’s the economy, stupid”

As we’ve noted before, the race for the Republican presidential nomination has gotten sidetracked on social issues, thanks to the contraceptive issue thats has come around in the last few weeks.

But with gas prices rising, and congressional Democrats realizing the potential ramifications of inaction, and an unemployment rate that is unlikely to fall much between now and election day, Republicans need to turn their attention back to the economy. Perhaps there is no better reminder that this election needs to be a referendum on that very specific issue than the latest numbers from Gallup showing Americans’ top concern:

Someone may want to let Rick Santorum know that voters aren’t concerned about social issues and tell him to get serious on economic policy, where he is clearly falling short.

Gallup: 72% of Americans believe ObamaCare is unconstitutional

It’s not a surprise that Americans are uneasy about the Obama Administration health care “reform,” which was rammed through Congress in March 2010. So it’s a wonder why Republicans are hammering social issues right now when a new poll from Gallup shows that a plurality of Americans favor repeal, and a solid majority — including a majority of Democrats — believe the individual mandate is unconstitutional:

Americans are deeply divided over whether a Republican president should repeal President Barack Obama’s health care law if elected this November, a new poll Monday shows, although the vast majority of those surveyed believe the individual mandate is unconstitutional.

Gallup found that 47 percent of Americans want a GOP president to repeal the law, while 44 percent oppose that.

However, 72 percent of Americans believe the individual mandate in the health care reform package is unconstitutional, while 20 percent believe it is constitutional.

Along party lines, a majority of Democrats - 56 percent - believe the health care mandate is unconstitutional and 37 percent defend it as constitutional. Among Republicans, 94 percent view that part of the law as unconstitutional.

Meanwhile, a USA Today/Gallup poll of swing states shows that a majority of crucial swing state voters oppose the law. In fact, 53 percent of swing state voters see the health care reforms as a “bad thing,” while 38 percent see it as a “good thing.”

Gallup: Unemployment is rising

Last month’s jobs numbers were certainly much needed good news, but a new report reminds us that we aren’t out of the woods yet. According to a new survey from Gallup, unemployment is hovering back around 9%:

Unemployment could rise back to 9 percent of the U.S. population in Feburary, according to a Gallup survey released Tuesday, painting a grim picture for the Obama administration, which had been temporarily buoyed by promising jobs figures at the end of January.

Gallup’s mid-month reading, which traditionally previews the government report issued at the end of the month, shows a rise of seven-tenths of a percentage from the 8.3 percent unemployment rate at the end of January. That would be the worst unemployment figure since September of last year.

The survey firm said seasonal factors — including job loss by seasonal workers hired over the holidays — could be responsible for the dip.

“Regardless of what the government reports, Gallup’s unemployment and underemployment measures show a sharp deterioration in job market conditions since mid-January,” the firm said in a statement accompanying the release of the data.

Gallup also found that 10 percent of American workers have part-time positions despite wanting full-time work.

This is a reminder to Democrats that they can’t take a month or two of decent economic news as a sign that Barack Obama will win re-election and they’ll re-take the House. Then again, this isn’t surprising given the predictions the Federal Reserve and the Congressional Budget Office recently made about the economy in the next couple of years.

NDAA moving forward in Congress

The very same week Gallup released a poll showing that fear and distrust of the federal government is at a near record high, the Congress is poised to move forward on the National Defense Authorization Act, which would allow for the indefinite detention of Americans:

Congress is pressing ahead with a massive $662 billion defense bill that requires military custody for terrorism suspects linked to al-Qaida, including those captured within the U.S., with lawmakers hoping their last-minute revisions will mollify President Barack Obama and eliminate a veto threat.

Leaders of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees announced late Monday that they had reached agreement on the policy-setting legislation that had gotten caught up in an escalating fight on whether to treat suspected terrorists as prisoners of war or criminals in the civilian justice system.

Responding to personal appeals from Obama and his national security team, the lawmakers added language on national security waivers and other changes that they hoped would ensure administration support for the overall bill.

“I assured the president that we were working on additional assurances, that the concerns were not accurate,” Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., who spoke to Obama last week, told reporters at a news conference. “That we’d do everything we could to make sure they were allayed, and met.”

White House officials said Tuesday they were reviewing the bill. It was unclear whether they would hold firm on the veto threat.

Americans want the Supreme Court to take down ObamaCare

ObamaCare is again shaping up to be a contentious issue for the White House and congressional Democrats. The most recent Gallup poll on the question showed that a plurality of Americans want Congress to take action to dismantle President Barack Obama’s biggest legislative accomplishment. Other polls have found that even Democrats are souring on the law.

So it no suprise that a new poll from Quinnipiac, shows that the public wants the Supreme Court, which will take up the law next year, to strike down ObamaCare:

A new poll shows that most voters want the Supreme Court to overturn President Obama’s health care law, with opposition and support falling largely along party lines.

Overall, voters oppose the law by 48%-40%, according to the Quinnipiac University survey. Democrats support the Obama health care effort by 70%-19%, while Republicans oppose it by 86%-8%.

The Quinnipiac survey found independent voters opposed to the law by 45%-38%.

Though they have the House, Republicans don’t have the numbers in the Senate; not to mention majorities large enough to override a veto. The future of the law, and what limitations the Constitution places on Congress, rests in the hands of the United States Supreme Court in what will be the most decision in our lifetimes.

Americans blame both parties for Supercommittee failure

While many in the media have taken used to the failure of the Supercommittee to come up with some sort of an agreement as an opportunity to criticize Republicans, a recent Gallup poll shows that Americans blame both parties for the impasse:

The hang up was over taxes, even though Republicans offered some $400 billion in new revenues through closing loopholes — a move that will be seen as a betrayal of the base, and understandably so. Democrats, however, balked at this and wanted more in terms of tax hikes. With the likelihood of another recesssion, raising taxes is just a bad idea. What Congress should be doing is cutting spending.

And while you point to the automatic cuts that come with the failure of the Supercommittee, Jacob Sullum explains that these are not cuts to real spending, rather cuts in future increases in spending:

The views and opinions expressed by individual authors are not necessarily those of other authors, advertisers, developers or editors at United Liberty.