Visual source: Newseum
It is still very early in the general election campaign and new surveys are released continually. The polling snapshots in these battleground states may look different in a few weeks than they do today, but for now, a close race nationally is translating into close contests in the critical swing states.
Nonetheless, Obama’s current standing in three key swing states looks slightly better now than it did in June 2008, just after he clinched the Democratic nomination.
So why would Mr. Obama be more popular than the economy and other factors might predict? One possibility is his personal likeability. Despite the armchair diagnoses of some pundits, large majorities of Americans perceive him as warm, empathetic and a good communicator. Although many fewer Americans approve of his performance in office, perhaps his personal appeal has boosted his job approval among some Americans.
A second possibility concerns whom Americans blame for the economy. Based on some recent polling data, I found that Mr. Obama continues to receive less blame than George W. Bush for the country’s economic problems. If, hypothetically speaking, every American blamed Mr. Obama and Mr. Bush equally, his approval rating would be about 11 points lower — enough to erase the gap between actual and expected approval in the first graph above. Of course, “hypothetically speaking” is the best we can do, short of replaying history and having Americans blame Mr. Obama more.
Nevertheless, “the blame game” conceivably has something to do with why Mr. Obama has remained more popular than we might expect. And if his better-than-expected popularity continues, it might give him just enough of an edge to defeat Mitt Romney in what is likely to be a close election.
John Sides also helped build the simple election predictor that Ezra Klein wrote up in the WaPo.
The April employment numbers out Friday morning, showing disappointing job creation, are no doubt a bigger problem for Obama than conservatives piling on poor Julia. But if all the attention gets more voters to click through her “life,” driving home his message that the government is there to help women, then maybe Obama will actually win this skirmish.
Conservatives waste more money than even Americans Elect.
Mitt Romney boxed in by Richard Grenell
Spokespeople are supposed to help candidates out of tight spots. In quitting Mitt Romney’s campaign before he even started working, foreign policy flack Richard Grenell managed to stick his candidate into one.
The former Massachusetts governor is now forced to insist that he didn’t fire an aide for his sexuality, an assertion that could jeopardize his already shaky relationship with the religious right.
But, wait, you say: It’s only May. The election is still more than six months off. Yes, that’s, of course, true. (There are 186 days between today and election day — but who’s counting?)
That seems like a long time — plenty of time, certainly, for voters’ perceptions on how President Obama is handling the economy to shift in the incumbent’s favor.
Consider: We are roughly one month away from most schools letting out and, therefore, we are one month away from the start of summer vacation season.
Add to that reality the fact that summer is traditionally a time when most Americans zone out a bit from politics — yes, even more than they usually zone out — and that by the time Labor Day rolls around peoples’ perceptions about how things are going in the country begin to harden, and you begin to see the potential difficulties for Obama if the next few months of jobs reports don’t get (much) better.
Until now, I have been reserved in my comments on CAM, partly because so many sincere, dedicated individuals in our single payer coalitions are supportive of CAM – including some members of PNHP who should know better. But dammit! Quackery is quackery! The smug CAM producers who retreat to their mansions are “dem that takes,” and the uninformed patient/victims lacking an adequate scientific background are “dem that gets took.”
Caveat emptor. But if one simply looks at the money spent by NIH on CAM and the lack of results, a case can be made for some budget cuts.
WaPo on the shrinking labor force:
The ‘demographics’ story
But a number of economists are arguing that the recession is distracting people from the real story — long-run demographic trends that have nothing to do with the current economy. Baby boomers are starting to retire en masse, which means that there are fewer eligible American workers.
Demographics have always played a big role in the rise and fall of the labor force. Between 1960 and 2000, the labor force in the United States surged from 59 percent to a peak of 67.3 percent. That was largely due to the fact that more women were entering the labor force while improvements in health and information technology allowed Americans to work more years.
But since 2000, the labor force rate has been steadily declining as the baby-boom generation has been retiring. Because of this, the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago expects the labor force participation rate to be lower in 2020 than it is today, regardless of how well the economy does.
In a March report titled “Dispelling an Urban Legend,” Dean Maki, an economist at Barclays Capital, found that demographics accounted for a majority of the drop in the participation rate since 2002.