Pollster and political analyst Scott Rasmussen tells Newsmax that if Americans’ satisfaction with their financial situation does not improve before November, there is “no way” President Barack Obama will be re-elected.
He also warns that if Romney does not take Florida, he has “no chance” of winning the White House — but adds that Obama is in trouble there because of seniors’ opposition to Obamacare.
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Rasmussen is founder and president of Rasmussen Reports and co-founder of the sports network ESPN. He has been an independent public opinion pollster for more than a decade, and most major news organizations cite his reports.
His latest book is “The People’s Money: How Voters Will Balance the Budget and Eliminate the National Debt.”
In an exclusive interview with Newsmax.TV on Wednesday, Rasmussen discussed the results of his presidential daily tracking poll that showed Obama with a lead over Romney for two days in a row for the first time since June.
“First of all, an update: The numbers today are tied 45 percent for Romney, 45 percent for Obama, and the bounce for the president came following last Friday’s jobs report.
“The initial reaction to it was, boy, it was better than expected — 163,000 jobs created, well above the projected numbers. What happened, though, in the last few days, is people have looked a little deeper. Perceptions of that report have declined. And this election is not really about Mitt Romney at all. It’s about Barack Obama and the way he’s doing his job. And the biggest measure of that are opinions on the U.S. economy.
“If consumer confidence moves up between now and Election Day, the president will be a lot better off. As of this morning, though, confidence has fallen. Confidence in the U.S. economy has fallen to the lowest level of 2012.”
Elaborating on the importance of consumer confidence, Rasmussen said it’s “one overall measure of how people look at the economy, and it does have some predictive value in terms of spending. So when confidence is lower, it means that in the future, you’re likely to see less spending, which creates a negative cycle.
“In the political sense, consumer confidence is one of those indicators very, very important to an incumbent. We happen to look at one particular number more than any other: The way the people rate their own personal finances. In a way it draws back to Ronald Reagan’s famous comment, ‘Are you better off than you were four years ago?’
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“Four years ago, in the fall of 2008, 43 percent of Americans said their finances were in good shape. That fell to 35 percent by the time Barack Obama took office. And it’s down to 33 percent today. If that number does not improve, President Obama will lose his job. There’s simply no way an incumbent president will be re-elected if people are feeling a little bit worse off than they were four years earlier.”
There has been some good news recently regarding the housing market, and the stock market has seen a summer rally.
As to why these economic data seem to conflict with consumer confidence, Rasmussen explained: “There’s a couple of reasons why there may be a conflict, and one is a simple lag. When people hear good news, they want to see two or three months in a row of good news before they believe it’s real. When there’s bad news, confidence drops right away.
“We have had four years of generally discouraging news. It’s going to take a lot to turn that around. So right now in the housing market, most Americans still say it’s a bad time to sell your home. Only half of homeowners believe their house is worth more than the mortgage.
“When you talk about jobs, only 24 percent say the jobs market is better than it was a year ago, 44 percent say it’s worse. What would turn that perception around would be if each of the next three jobs reports got better than the one we just had. On the other hand, if there is a single bad report or a downward revision of the July numbers, that would be very devastating to confidence.
“We do a monthly employee index where we talk to 9,000 workers across the country, find out what they are seeing. Only 20 percent report their firms are hiring, and 22 percent are reporting layoffs. Those are the weakest numbers we have seen in nine months.”
President Obama has called on former President Clinton to speak at the Democratic National Convention, but Rasmussen’s data show that only 32 percent of Americans believe Clinton and Obama see eye to eye on how to fix the economy.
Rasmussen commented: “You have to recognize, first off, that Bill Clinton is seen as much closer to the political center. While 43 percent believe that Barack Obama is very liberal, only 14 percent see Bill Clinton as that far to the left. On top of that, Bill Clinton has a proven ability to connect with people, even in a center-right nation. And so my expectation is he will do a great job making the case for Barack Obama.
“I would expect that even though there will be a difference between what he says and what President Obama says, his message, to the degree it gets through, will help the current president.”
Rasmussen stressed the importance of the presidential race in Florida. “Florida is a traditional swing state, one of the most important. For all intents and purposes, the presidential race is a tossup.
“President Obama has a little bit of a challenge in Florida because his healthcare law is most unpopular among seniors. And bluntly, if Mitt Romney can’t win this state, the state of Florida, he has no chance of winning the White House.”
The pollster also offered his analysis of the presidential and congressional races in several other key states:
- In Ohio the White House race is “very close,” and Ohio “will be one of the four most important states on Election Day, along with Florida, North Carolina, and Virginia. North Carolina is moving slightly in Romney’s direction, while the other three states remain tossups.”
- In Colorado, which has become a swing state, Romney and Obama are tied at 47 percent, according to Rasmussen, who said: “States like Colorado could be key tie-breakers. It’s very important to mention every swing state this year is a state that was won by Barack Obama four years ago. There are no states that John McCain won that the Obama camp is putting in play.”
- In Virginia, “we are showing President Obama up 2 points. The Senate race there between Tim Kaine and George Allen is a tossup. I believe that whichever party wins the electoral votes in Virginia will also get that Senate seat.”
- Nevada has been a “very tough state for Republicans in recent years and we continue to show President Obama with a modest lead there. But if Romney is doing very well nationally it might be very competitive.”
- The Senate race in Florida between incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson and GOP challenger Connie Mack is “going to come down to a team effort. If Mitt Romney is able to open up a pretty significant lead in Florida, and by that I mean four or five points, that might be enough to defeat the incumbent Nelson.”
- In Missouri, incumbent Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill “is one of the senators most closely identified with President Obama and that’s really hurting her in the state. She trails Congressman Todd Akin 47 percent to 44 percent, and that poll was taken before Akin won the primary. I suspect his numbers will do a little bit better when we start polling now that the primary has been decided.”
- In the Ohio Senate race between tea party favorite Josh Mandel and Democrat Sherrod Brown, “Mandel is the underdog, but he is certainly competitive,” said Rasmussen. “It’s one of those states that if it’s a really good night for the Republicans, it might pull him across the finish line on top. But if it’s just a squeaker at the presidential level, then Mandel probably falls short and the Democrats keep that seat.”
Overall in the Senate, Rasmussen added, “when you really get down to it, we’re going to be in a situation where the Republicans will probably pick up a seat in Nebraska, probably Missouri, probably North Dakota. That puts them right at 50 if they don’t lose any other seats and that also means any one seat could put them over the top.
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“Our latest numbers in the Montana Senate race show Congressmen Denny Rehberg at 49 percent. He’s the Republican. John Tester, the incumbent Democrat, is at 47 percent. The state generally leans in a Republican direction, and I suspect, barring a major shift in the economy, that Rehberg is the favorite there.
“For the most part it’s going to depend on those economic trends. If the trends get better nationally in the economy, perceptions of the economy improve, Democrats will do better everywhere. If it gets worse Republicans will do better everywhere.”
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