Reëlection Watch: December 2011
At least once every month between now and the general election, we examine the reëlection landscape for President Barack Obama. As we progress through the next year, the frequency will almost certainly increase.
Each time, we take a look at the various factors that typically influence election outcomes, and compare them to the previous month.
Let’s look at how things are shaking out this month.
As of Tuesday this week, the Real Clear Politics average had his approval/disapproval rating with a −8.2 point spread. This is a one-point fall from last month, though the overall trend has been flat.
The Right Track/Wrong Track polls have also been pretty much flat; the spread shrank by 1.8 points to −54.0. Generally, numbers this low are indicative of a change in the party in power. Congress continues to wallow deep in the cellar; this month, the spread shrank by mere 0.2 points to −69.6. The long-term Congressional trend has been bluer for the second half of 2011, with Democrats having a thin 1.2 percent lead in the generic poll. And Obama continues to poll better than Congress. In other words, the country is overall weakly leaning toward the Democrats, which does work in Obama’s favor, though barely.
Intrade has Obama at a 50.1 percent chance of reëlection, up a half point from last month. Obama’s position improved slightly for the second month in a row. He continues to be statistically tied with Mitt Romney in the head-to-head polls, as he has been for pretty much the entire year. He polls well above primary poll leader Newt Gingrich, though.
This month was mixed enough in this category to warrant a gray ball.
Last month’s New Kid, Herman Cain, has been replaced with this month’s model, Newt Gingrich. Gingrich has a commanding lead nationally, as well as in the key early states of Iowa, South Carolina, and Florida.
All of the other candidates are deeply rooted in single digit territory.
Romney has long been the candidate who polls best against Obama, but now is well behind Gingrich for the nomination. If Romney had the nomination today, and the general election were to happen today, polls indicate that it would be a close match, at least in the national popular vote. If it’s Gingrich, Obama’s likely to get four more years.
Since Obama is statistically tied with Romney but comfortably ahead against Gingrich, this one gets the green arrow.
The past month shows encouraging signs.
Unemployment reports suggest improvement, having droped a half percent to 8.6 percent. While the stock market has gyrated wildly of late, it’s been far more based on speculation over the future of European debt than of short-term economic activity. That makes the stock market’s movements a worse indicator than usual for predicting future employment activity.
As further evidence of the uselessness of the Dow in proxying current economic activity, look at oil prices. Typically, they rise when there is an increase in economic activity. West Texas Intermediate crude is trading at about $100, the second consecutive month of an 11 percent rise. Brent crude (representing the European market) has fallen slightly over the same period. Together, they suggest that the United States economy is improving.
This is the first month in a long time where the major indicators point in the same direction. Better yet, they point up. Green arrow this month.
The debt supercommittee’s failure made Congressional Democrats look bad, and made Congressional Republicans look worse. The continued revolving door of NotRomneys has made Republican Presidential candidates look bad, too. There haven’t really been any negative Obama stories this past month. Overall, this is also a green arrow category.
Here’s how things look overall.
|Area||Effect||Change from Last Month|
This is two months in a row of things looking up for Obama. Obama’s certainly nowhere near assured reëlection, but he’s moving the right direction from an already marginally positive starting point.
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