Evidence continues to mount that President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign is in trouble. The latest comes from a poll of likely voters by Politico/George Washington University showing Obama tied with a generic Republican opponent at 43 percent.
Obama leads Republican front-runner Mitt Romney 49 percent to 43 percent and Herman Cain 49 percent to 40 percent. But the president receives only a 44 percent approval rating, compared with a 51 percent disapproval rating. And in 19 swing states, Obama’s approval rating registered 40 percent, compared with a disapproval rating of 57 percent.
The presidential numbers indicate that, if the election next year amounts to a referendum on Obama’s job performance, he may well be looking for a new job. Voters’ impression of Obama isn’t any better than just before the Democrats got wiped out in last year’s congressional elections.
The Republican nominee will beat Obama next year if he can keep the campaign focused on the president, Republican pollster Ed Goeas of The Tarrance Group tells Politico
“My feeling is very strongly that ultimately, it’s first a decision on whether or not to rehire the incumbent as opposed to a choice between both individuals,” he said. “You do fall into a certain amount of ‘the devil I know as opposed to the devil I don’t know,’ but we’ve seen that very little in recent elections.”
Goeas minimizes Obama’s strong showing in a one-on-one contest against Romney, saying it’s too early to pay much attention to that number. He notes that only 83 percent of Republicans now support Romney vs. Obama, but that number would rise in the general election, he said.
In addition, the winning Republican candidate will put more effort into attracting independent voters in the general election, after focusing on conservatives during the primaries, Goeas said. “Winning cures a lot of ills. That winning candidate who will surface on the other end won’t look to independents like they do today.”
Congress receives just a 12 percent approval rating in the poll, compared with an 83 percent disapproval rating. But when it comes to respondents’ own member of Congress, they give a 46 percent approval rating, compared with a 39 percent disapproval rating. As for how they’d vote in a congressional election, 44 percent say they’d opt for a Democrat and 43 percent for a Republican. The survey’s margin of error is three percentage points.
Voters are disappointed about Obama’s handling of relations with Congress. A hefty 57 percent of likely voters disapprove of his dealings with Congress, up from 44 percent in May.
The president’s insistence that Congress pass his jobs bill apparently hasn’t won over voters.
Goeas says Obama won’t be able to adopt Harry Truman’s successful re-election strategy of 1948, when he ran against a do-nothing Republican Congress.
“He has “raised the enthusiasm of the base some, but it’s been at the expense of independents,” Goeas said, referring to Obama’s relationship with Congress. “He’s not coming across as trying to get everyone to work together.”
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