So even the liberal New York Times and Washington Post have published unflattering opinion polls about President Obama's flagging favorability ratings and growing voter discontent with his job performance.
The Times poll says 41 percent of respondents expressed approval of the job Obama is doing, and 47 percent expressed disapproval. Moreover, 75 percent view the nation’s financial picture as “fairly bad” or “very bad.”
Not surprisingly, the Times tried to spin its lead sentence: "Despite improving job growth and an extended Republican primary fight dividing his would-be opponents, President Obama is heading into the general election season on treacherous political ground..."
"Improving job growth" is a laugher. We would need 400,000 new jobs per month for a couple of years to get back to the 6 percent unemployment rate of late 2008. With 250K or so per month, we're just spinning our wheels. And frankly, there is no guarantee we will even continue creating jobs at this pace as we move into the spring and summer. Higher gasoline prices have a dampening effect on economic activity, robbing consumers of discretionary income and inhibiting demand for consumer goods and services. Continued instability in the Middle East and economic turmoil in Europe also do not bode well for robust job growth.
And as for the continued Republican infighting, this is not going to have long-term negative effects on the eventual GOP nominee. It's just so much white noise to most voters, who will have forgotten about the latest mud-slinging come November (or at the very least, will have minimized its significance, chalking it up to the "boys will be boys" mindset, i.e, they're politicans, what else would you expect?).
The Washington Post's poll, publshed Monday, pointed out the inverse relationship of gasoline prices and Obama's popularity, noting the "strongly" negative views voters increasingly hold about Obama's performance on the economy and persistently huge budget deficits. A sizable 59 percent of those surveyed gave Obama negative marks on the economy. The president also fares poorly on the issues of Iran and the war in Afghanistan.
It is still only March; we have nearly eight months to go until the election. A lot can happen between now and then to boost or lower voters' views of Obama and his potential opponents. But it says something that normally sympathetic publications are reporting bad news about their favorite presidential candidate. Perhaps they are simply trying to light a fire under the O-man?
If anything, the reality is even worse for Obama than the numbers would indicate. The mainstream media organs attempt to soft-pedal bad news for their guy (recall that Reagan trailed Carter by 20 points in the spring of 1980 and the two were seen as running neck-and-neck just days before the Gipper's landslide election win).
One thing is for sure: The Republcan candidates cannot afford to coast or get complacent. The GOP has a lousy track record for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, for shooting itself in the foot time and time again.
The old media will continue to spin like their lives depended on it to help prop up Obama. The GOP candidates and eventual nominee must keep their noses to the proverbial grindstone and avoid getting sucked into silly controversies like contraception. Let's see if they're up to the task.