The In-Between Presidency


Gallup sums it up:

Obama appears in much better shape now than the two recently elected presidents who were denied a second term — Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush — both of whom averaged below 40% approval their 14th quarters in office. At the same time, Obama is not as well-positioned as the post-World War II elected presidents who were above 50% during their 14th quarters and who all won re-election easily.

Which means that this election is going to work your last nerves if you are an Obama supporter. It pits economic gloom against a still personally popular president. But then Obama always seems to be on the verge of losing, and then somehow pulls it out. Maybe not this time, though. The economy seems to be doing exactly what Romney needs it to do: get the current pain to banish any thoughts about how it happened. This poll reveals the extent of Obama's burden – and the shrewdness of Romney's campaign to make this election entirely about the current economy. But the public is aware of his constraints:

Fifty-seven percent of voters said congressional Republicans have impeded the recovery with their policies, and only 30 percent overall believe the GOP has done the right things to boost the economy.

Cillizza notes how knife-edge this election will likely be nonetheless:

The highest the national unemployment rate has ever been when a president has won reelection is 7.2 percent, for Ronald Reagan in 1984. Of the 12 swing(ish) states, six had rates above 7.2 percent, while a seventh — Ohio — had exactly that 7.2 percent rate.