What the President Has Here is a Failure to Communicate

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on July 18, 2012

Despite the Obama campaign’s attempts to build up the president by trying to tear down Mitt Romney, the latest poll shows that the public isn’t buying what Team Obama is selling:

President Obama and Mitt Romney are effectively tied in the race for the presidency, according to a new CBS News/New York Times survey.

Forty-seven percent of registered voters nationwide who lean towards a candidate back Romney, while 46 percent support the president. Four percent are undecided. The one percentage point difference is within the survey’s three point margin of error.

Romney leads by eight points among men; the president leads by five points among women.

The president benefits from having his backers support him more strongly than Mitt Romney’s support their candidate, but those numbers are likely to tighten up once the Republican National Convention takes place, and as we get closer to November. Republicans as a whole are more enthused about voting than Democrats are, which alone may help Romney cut into the president’s enthusiasm edge. And the following numbers have to worry Team Obama:

Fifty-four percent of registered voters cite the economy and jobs as “extremely” important in their presidential vote, more than any other issue. Here Romney has the edge: 49 percent of registered voters say he would do a better job handling the economy and jobs, while 41 percent cite Mr. Obama.

Romney is also seen as better on the federal budget deficit (50 percent to 36 percent), taxes (47 percent to 42 percent) and illegal immigration (46 percent to 38 percent). Mr. Obama as seen as better on foreign policy (47 percent to 40 percent) and social issues (48 percent to 37 percent). Views of the candidates on health care and terrorism were split.

Since this election is not going to be about foreign policy and social issues, and is going to be about jobs, the economy, the budget deficit, taxes, and other pocketbook issues, I am sure that the Romney campaign will take those numbers. They should.

And then there is this:

Only 28 percent believe Mr. Obama has fulfilled his promise to deliver positive change for the country. Fifty-eight percent say he has not delivered change, while seven percent say he has delivered change that has been bad for the country.

Mr. Obama’s overall approval rating stands at 44 percent, with 46 percent disapproving. His approval rating on the economy is just 39 percent – 55 percent disapprove – and his approval rating on foreign policy is 41 percent. His approval rating on the economy has dropped five points since April.

[. . .]

Seven in ten Americans say the economy is in bad shape. While 24 percent say it is getting better – down from 33 percent in April – 30 percent say it is getting worse. That marks the highest percentage who say the economy is getting worse since December.

Two in five Americans say they are very concerned someone in their household will lose their job.

It isn’t as though Romney has fantastic favorability numbers either, but this president’s numbers are in the danger zone for any incumbent. The Obama campaign knows that those numbers aren’t going north anytime soon, and so they have settled on the only strategy that they have available–trying to make Romney look worse than the president does. Unfortunately for Team Obama, they haven’t been able to get their message through. In shocking news, it turns out that people care far more about what Barack Obama is doing with their money than about what Mitt Romney does with his.

For more on this issue–and yes, there is more–check out this story from the New York Times, which echoes the fact that the president is in trouble:

. . . with job growth tailing off since spring and the Federal Reserve chairman, Ben S. Bernanke, wondering aloud whether the labor market is “stuck in the mud,” the poll showed a significant shift in opinion about Mr. Obama’s handling of the economy, with 39 percent now saying they approved and 55 percent saying they disapproved.

In the Times/CBS poll in April, when the economy seemed to have momentum, 44 percent approved and 48 percent disapproved.

The new poll shows that the race remains essentially tied, notwithstanding all of the Washington chatter suggesting that Mr. Romney’s campaign has seemed off-kilter amid attacks on his tenure at Bain Capital and his unwillingness to release more of his tax returns. Forty-five percent say they would vote for Mr. Romney if the election were held now and 43 percent say they would vote for Mr. Obama.

When undecided voters who lean toward a particular candidate are included, Mr. Romney has 47 percent to Mr. Obama’s 46 percent.

Both results are within the poll’s margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points. But it is the first time Mr. Romney has shown a numeric edge in the Times/CBS poll since he emerged from the primaries as the presumptive nominee. Mr. Obama had a three-point advantage in March. The two were each favored by 46 percent in April.

It is worth noting that the poll was conducted among registered voters. Likely voters tend to be more Republican; if the sample focused on them, Barack Obama might be found to be in even more trouble.

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