Hoping your opponents continue to screw up is no way to run a political campaign, but Republicans across the Country have to wonder what they did to deserve a field of Democratic opposition that is so uniformly hapless, and led by a President so tone-deaf to public sentiment. While it is still too early to begin measuring drapes for new offices on Capitol Hill, every single piece of available data, every trend, and all of history indicate that November 2 will be a “wave” election that washes Democratic incumbents out to sea and out of power.
First, history: The party that’s not in the White House almost always gains seats in Congress –that’s nearly axiomatic. A 39 seat net gain for Republicans in the House of Representatives is as certain as anything can be 64 days before an election, though a similar, takeover-sized gain in the Senate is not as certain. Second, the data: Nearly every poll conducted in August shows a clear majority of the country feels the nation is on the wrong track, while a mere third (or less) believe that we’re headed in the right direction. President Obama’s job approval rating is abysmal: 54.5% disapproval to 38.7% approval –and that’s just among independents! Mr. Obama can take comfort in the fact that while his numbers are bad, America hates Congress even more. Current polls show more than 71% of the people disapprove of Congress, while less than 20% approve.
It’ll be nearly three years before Republicans begin to head to the polls to choose their presidential nominee, but they jockeying for position is well under way. Both Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Marco Rubio (R-FL), both of whom are thought to be among the Republicans who will seek the nomination, have been making high-profile speeches and legislative proposals over the first four months of the year.
But according to a new poll, voters have a more favorable opinion of Paul, who has carried the Tea Party banner in the Senate, than they do Rubio, who has been dubbed by Time as the “Republican savior”:
According to the NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey, Paul, who was elected with strong tea party support in Kentucky, comes in at 53% among Republicans, and 32% among independents.
Rubio’s favorable rating among Republicans, meanwhile, is 48%. Among independents, the Florida senator is at 27%.
The numbers fall mostly in line with a CNN/ORC International poll conducted last month, when 53% of Republicans had a positive opinion of Paul, though slightly more–54%–felt the same about Rubio at the time.
And while Rubio was a top surrogate for GOP nominee Mitt Romney and a contender to be his running mate, Paul still has higher ratings among Romney voters than Rubio, 62%-56%, the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll shows.
While other polls show Iowa and Wisconsin out of Mitt Romney’s reach, new polling from Rasmussen in both states show a tightening race with just four days left to go until voters head to the polls.
A week ago, the candidates were tied at 48% apiece. The president led by two earlier in the month, while Romney posted a three-point lead in September. Prior to the latest findings, Romney’s support in Iowa has fallen in the narrow range of 46% to 48% in surveys since June, while Obama’s support has ranged from 44% to 49%.
Forty-two percent (42%) of likely Iowa voters have already voted. The president leads 56% to 39% among these voters.
In line with voters nationally, Iowa voters trust Romney more by seven points – 51% to 44% - when it comes to handling the economy but trust the candidates equally in the area of national security.
Yesterday wasn’t a good day for Mitt Romney’s campaign. Polls conducted CBS, The New York Times, and Quinnipiac showing his campaign trailing in three must-win, swing states, meaning that an Electoral College victory remains out of reach. Others have noted that the polls don’t make much sense because — in Virginia, for example — Romney leads among independents by such a wide margin.
Ed Morrissey also points out that enthusiasm is on the side of Republicans in the CBS/NYT/Qunnipiac poll, which he says spells bad news for Obama. With enthusiasm on their side and signs pointing to voter turnout being down this year, Republicans could squeek out an expected victory. But with the campaigns concentrating on their ground games in states like Ohio and Virginia, it’s hard to see how voter turnout won’t be up at least in those states.
Independent voters are the key to this presidential election. There is little doubt about that. Mitt Romney is already doing well in swing states with these crucial voting bloc, and, as Chris Cillizza recently explained at the Washington Post, may ride them to victory over President Barack Obama:
In the last three releases of the tracking poll conducted by The Washington Post and ABC News, Obama has trailed former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney among independent voters by between 16 and 20 percentage points.
That’s a striking reversal from 2008, when Obama won independent voters, who made up 29 percent of the electorate, by eight points over Sen. John McCain of Arizona.
So, what gives? Why is Obama — at least according to the Post-ABC data — having so much trouble with independents?
The answer lies in the fact that most independents are not, well, independent. Of all the likely voters who called themselves independents in nine days of the Post-ABC tracking poll, fully three-quarters (75 percent) — said they tend to lean toward one party or the other. (The remainder are known as “pure” independents.)
And it’s among those shadow partisans that Obama is struggling. Ninety-two percent of Republican-leaning independents said they plan to support Romney, while 84 percent of Democratic-leaning independents are backing Obama.
This morning we ran through the current electoral vote count and what states were currently in play for both candidates. Some may be wondering what factors are driving the race right as Mitt Romney looks to be making substantial gains in swing states. Perhaps the most important voting bloc helping Romney in these important states is independents, as Christian Heinze notes over at The Hill:
a. Colorado = Obama won by 10% with indies in 2008.
b. Florida = Obama won by 9% with indies in 2008.
As he comes closer to securing the Republican presidential nomination, Ron Paul’s delegate strategy notwithstanding, Mitt Romney is no doubt weighing the various names that could partner with him on the ticket. There are a few safe picks that would appease conservatives, but not many that would appeal to independent voters; at least not without a proper rollout and a lot of selling.
But yesterday at the National Review, Robert Costa floated our old friend, Tax Hike Mike Huckabee, someone that has been under radar when it comes to a possible vice presidential pick:
[A]ccording to several sources close to the Romney campaign, who insisted on anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the vice-presidential search, the 56-year-old Arkansan may be included in the veep mix.
To many Republicans, a ticket with a Mormon bishop and a Baptist preacher isn’t far-fetched. “In a way, it’s almost a dream ticket,” says Ed Rollins, the chairman of Huckabee’s 2008 presidential campaign. “He’s substantive and knows domestic policy, and his personality wouldn’t overshadow Romney’s.”
For now, it isn’t clear whether Huckabee is going to be vetted, or that he’s anywhere near Romney’s short list. But he is, at the very least, being discussed. As one Romney ally puts it, tapping Huckabee would energize tea-party conservatives, evangelicals, and related voters who soured on Romney during the GOP primaries. He’s also not a sweat-inducing pick, since he was vetted by the Beltway press during his presidential run four years ago.
This election season I’ve been told by Republican friends more times than I can count that the Independent vote isn’t really important in the 2012 presidential election. They argue that, sure, Republicans would like to have their votes, but they don’t need them to beat Obama in November.
A recent poll from Gallup indicates that these Republican folks may be wrong:
What caught my eye in this is the similarities between the Republicans and Democrats polled. Exactly 90% supported their party’s candidate while 6% supported the opponent and 3% fell into the Neither/Unsure/Refused category. The only difference is the “Other” column where the difference is only about a half of a percent. Republicans and Democrats are literally split 50/50 on the coming presidential election.
The important thing to pull from these results is that it’s another group of people who will determine who wins the election in November. It’s the Independent voter that makes the difference in the end; in this poll, the Independent vote gives the edge to Romney.
But who are these people?
Tea Party people. Since the surge of the Tea Party, more and more people have started identifying as “Independent” when asked their political affiliation. They’ll still vote Republican on a lesser-of-two-evils argument, but calling themselves Independent makes them feel good.
Polls haven’t been kind to either side lately, especially in the wake of the budget deal. We’ve noted recently that only 49% of Americans would re-elect their Congressman, which is an astonishing number. But it’s not just Congress that is being lashed out at by seething voters. According to Gallup, President Barack Obama’s approval rating have hit their lowest mark:
President Obama’s approval rating hit an all-time low on Sunday in the Gallup Poll’s rolling average of public opinion of the president.
Thirty-nine percent of Americans said they approve of the way Obama is handling his job as president, eclipsing a previous low point of 40 percent from the Aug. 6-8 edition of the poll.
Fifty-four percent of Americans said they disapprove of the president’s job performance, also an ignominious distinction for being a high point in Gallup’s tracking poll.
It’s certainly ominous as Obama approaches what will be a very contentious election. And while it could just be a blip, it’s not a position anyone wants to find themselves in; especially that the economy is moving so slowly and possibly towards another recession.
A separate poll last week by Gallup showed that 51% of voters don’t believe that Obama deserves re-election and perhaps even more concerning is that independent voters are drifting away from him, according to a CNN poll.
A new poll from the Washington Post and Pew Research shows that Americans worry more about Congress increasing the debt ceiling than defaulting on debt payments:
[W]hen pressed to name their biggest concern, nearly half of respondents say they are alarmed by the prospect that the debt could grow beyond its current limit of $14.3 trillion, according to a new Washington Post-Pew Research Center poll. Only 35 percent say they are more worried about the risk of default and economic destabilization if Congress does not raise the debt limit.
Among those who believe they are well-informed, 52 percent say they worry more about Congress raising the limit and permitting additional borrowing. By comparison, 37 percent worry more about the possibility of default. Those who consider themselves less well-informed are more evenly split, with 45 percent more worried about borrowing and 34 percent more concerned about default.
The poll also notes that independent voters, which strongly rejected Democrats in last year’s mid-term election, are mostly siding with Republicans over Democrats:
Independents — crucial to the reelection prospects of as many as a dozen Senate Democrats, as well as President Obama — tend to side with Republicans. Among independents, 49 percent say they worry more about additional debt, while 34 percent say their bigger fear is the risk of default.
And even Bill Clinton isn’t buying the predictions of armageddon that Tim Geither and other Democrats would have us believe, as Dave Weigel notes: