Obama's uncertain road - Macleans.ca

Obama’s uncertain road

Despite Republican struggles, the President faces key challenges that make the next election anything but a lock


In the wake of Mitt Romney’s lacklustre performance in Mississippi and Alabama, the discussion has centered on how the Romney campaign must retool as he is emerging as a weaker candidate from the primary process. Both Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich have indirectly pushed this narrative with their attacks on the frontrunner, despite Romney’s obvious delegate advantage for the nomination. In light of this, however, it would be foolhardy for Obama supporters to conclude that this election may not be as close as predicted with the President pulling off an easy win.

The reality is that recent polls show a decrease in Obama‘s approval members, largely attributed to the gas prices. Romney has actually narrowed the worrisome gap of recent weeks, and in some polls, he is actually ahead. Even Obama’s lead over the more polarizing Santorum is not wide enough for the President to feel any comfort. It is clear from these poll numbers that America is still fundamentally a 50-50 country.

Whether it is a President from one party, or a House from another, when the presidential results hover around the 50% mark, no party or ideology clearly dominates the political landscape. Many would be tempted to predict that the Democrats with President Obama may win next November, but few would predict that he will recapture the House in the process. This is why the Republican primary spectacle, disheartening as it is to many veteran Republicans, is not a forerunner of an electoral defeat for their nominee come November.

There are three factors that the Obama campaign see as being serious obstacles to reelection. One is the Republican obsession with defeating Obama at all costs. The animosity directed against an incumbent President has never been as vitriolic in recent decades. His birthright has been questioned, he is described as a radical, European socialist, and there is the implication is that he acts un-American when he apologizes to other countries about America’s role in past conflicts. All this is part of the fictional Obama syndrome created by GOP spin-meisters, but it is also an indication that even an unloved Mitt Romney is by far more acceptable to Republicans than Obama. Expect Republicans to rally around Romney because their dislike for Obama far surpasses their reservations about the former Massachusetts Governor’s conservative credentials.

A second factor is the economy, considered by all as the overriding issue in the fall campaign. Despite encouraging job numbers in recent months, the recovery is still not robust and gasoline prices are beginning to modify the rhetoric of a sound economy. With Americans travelling more in the summer months and with events in the Middle East remaining uncertain, it is possible that higher gasoline prices could spark an economic slowdown in the months leading up to the election. This accounts for Obama’s increasingly public presence to explain why gas prices are on the rise, and how his energy policy is not to blame.

A final, even more uncertain factor is events in Syria, Afghanistan and Iran. At best, it is difficult to predict circumstances in each country. At worst, events could mushroom out of control with Obama appearing weak and ineffective in the process. Granted, foreign policy rarely trumps domestic issues, but there could be a cause-and-effect outcome on the U.S. economy if the situation deteriorates in those countries.

President Obama remains the best campaigner of the lot and he has recovered much of the mojo lost in the debt ceiling debate of last summer. The Tea Party is less of a factor than it has been, and the Republican alternative fails to impress. But when key factors are somewhat beyond the full grasp of the White House, it is fair to conclude at this juncture that Obama’s reelection prospects are on an uncertain road.

Filed under:

Obama’s uncertain road

  1. Whoa boy, where to start!

    1) Obama’s declining popularity is due to GAS PRICES?! It has nothing to do with his wrong-headed policies, like the green energy fiasco he’s been embarking on since he took over. Because Americans are really so stupid?

    2) You can’t actually suggest with a straight face that the animosity towards Obama even comes close to comparing with what GWB had to put up with during his second term campaign. He was accused of being a war monger, he was accused by many on the far left of actually orchestrating 9/11, he was accused of stealing the election, he was accused of being a draft dodger. All total lies. 

    3) His economic policy has been a complete unmitigated disaster. He’s ramped up government spending, and the deficit is completely out of control. Again, this has nothing to do with the price of gas.

    • This is not a very intelligent analysis . Just emotional . Where is Ronald Reagan when we need him .Rick sounds like Newt who is | 3 . Fortunately , Mitt will beat him.

      •  Rick’s analysis is sensible and spot-on.  You provided no analysis whatsoever, nor a coherent response.

    • I believe he’s talking about recent numbers. 

      • Rick is why we Republicans look like loonies . Call him out . He hates Obama so much that he forgets about giving reasons to vote Republican. He is really silly .

        • He is a loud and proud Canadian Conservative so you imagine what he does for their image.  :-)

          • Not a good reason to be blinded . He must be methodical if Republicans are to gain traction . Rick Omen is just acting like a jerk , not a true conservative.

  2. “foreign policy rarely trumps domestic issues”

    Seems true, but Carter surely lost to Reagan in large part because of the hostage crisis and the failed rescue mission.

    • Carter got a short-term boost from the hostage crisis, which saved his bacon in the Democratic Primary. Prior to that Ted Kennedy led in most of the polls. The continuation of the hostage situation and botched rescue mission hurt, but it wasn’t decisive. Even as late as November 1, 1980 Carter was tied with or leading Reagan in some polls ( 
      http://www.amstat.org/sections/SRMS/proceedings/papers/1981_011.pdf ). My sense is that it had more to do with “are you better off now than you were four years ago?”

  3. Bit OT but looks like Hillary is stirring the pot, lol  Even some spec. by journos Obama should step aside and let her run.

    “Why extremists always focus on women remains a mystery to me,” she told an adoring crowd at the Women in the World Summit at Lincoln Center on Saturday. “But they all seem to. It doesn’t matter what country they’re in or what religion they claim. They want to control women. They want to control how we dress. They want to control how we act. They even want to control the decisions we make about our own health and bodies.

    “Yes,” she continued to applause, “it is hard to believe that even here at home, we have to stand up for women’s rights and reject efforts to marginalize any one of us, because America needs to set an example for the entire world.”

    As secretary of state, Clinton is supposed to stay out of domestic politics. But this was a moment pregnant with possibility, a titanic clash of the Inevitable (Hillary) and the Indefensible (Republican cavemen).”


    • She has been fighting for women’s rights, pretty much all her adult life.  Funny, you would assume she’s talking about Santorum.  It does apply to him though, doesn’t it?

  4. I agree with the general thrust of this piece.  But then there is this quintessentially Parisellian item:

    “The animosity directed against an incumbent President has never been as vitriolic in recent decades. His birthright has been questioned, he is described as a radical, European socialist, and there is the implication is that he acts un-American when he apologizes to other countries about America’s role in past conflicts.”

    Do you remember that last guy…what’s ‘is name….Bush?  Also known to the Left as “Chimp”, “Shrub”, “Bush!tler”, etc.   I seem to vaguely recall that his electoral legitimacy was questioned for 4 straight years, he was described as a radical, right-wing fascist, and there were implications that he was an idiot, drunken puppet of either the oil industry or Haliburton, that he was starting wars either for profit or to settle old scores, and that he was a traitor who orchestrated the 911 attacks on his own country in order to provoke a war.

    Yeah, nothing like the animosity directed at Obama.  

    Good grief.  The Left really is blinkered.  It’s a shame that journalists, who are supposed to shed light on current events, are often similarly blinkered.

    • This time, Gaunilon writes on behalf of me. I was thinking exactly the same thing.

    • Absolutely.  There is absolutely no comparison.  Obama hasn’t had anything near the same treatment. 

      Bush had a friggin protest permanently situated at the end of his driveway at his vacation home in Crawford, Texas.  Meanwhile, we’ve got Obama jetting off to Spain, Hawaii, Aspen and Martha’s Vineyard and there’s not a whisper from the press or anyone else. Obama has had the cupcake treatment in comparison.