But I think even worse for Obama than the decline in the intensity of support among Democrats--because after all, where they are going to go--on election day they'll be out there for him--is the number on independents. The number on independents is staggeringly bad. 31% approval of independents...And I think if Obama cannot rise from the 31% approval he has among independents he is going to suffer a landslide.And he's hardly alone on such prognostications. It's all the rage now to detail Obama's declining approval numbers and supposed declining chances to win in 2012.
How the worm turns. Just a few short weeks ago, the scuttlebutt was how the GOP would lose 2012 because of its awful field of likely candidates.
At the same time, Sean Trende at RealClearPolitics has a lengthy analysis on the likelihood of the GOP regaining control of the Senate, or rather on the likelihood of the Democrats losing it. I'll save you the read: he argues that it's likely.
Now, I love me some Krauthammer, anytime, all the time. And I can't think of the last time I disagreed with him. But I do on this. Not that I necessarily want Obama to win in 2012 (I really don't), but I think it's still very likely that he wins, again. In fact, I think it's likely, regardless of who the GOP fields as their nominee. Yet, I agree with Trende: the Democrats are set to lose control of the Senate...and the GOP margin in the House will increase, as well. Why? Well, I'll tell you:
1) Think 1996. I know every election is unique, but 1996 provides some insight into the realities of party-line voting versus issue-driven voting. As much as Clinton is hailed for his brilliant "it's the economy, stupid" observation, when it comes to Presidential politics the idea is continually overstated. Populism trumps the economy, when done right. Look at 1936 for more evidence of this. And populism--class warfare--is Obama's bread and butter issue.
2) The tea-party movement, while still very powerful, remains regional in its orientation and effects. In 2010, it was incredibly effective for local/state races, very effective for House races, and only somewhat effective for Senate races. It won't have the sort of impact on the Presidential race many are hoping for. But I think it will have a greater impact on Senate races, especially given the "where" of many of those races, thus supporting Trende's analysis.
3) At the end of the day, Obama's base will support him, above all else. Never underestimate the politics of fear. And make no mistake, fear will be the core issue for the Obama campaign, no matter who the GOP nominee is.
4) Money. Obama is gonna have more of it--a lot more--for the campaign. There's no way around this. And that's interesting on another level, since the SCOTUS ruling on campaign finance reform was supposed to be a boon for the right.
These factors suggest an Obama victory. At the very least, they rule out a landslide type of loss for the President in 2012.