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Saturday, June 2, 2012

No Surprise, but a Big Response

We are now one day past the terrible employment numbers released by the government yesterday and two days past the updated GDP numbers for the first quarter that showed growth at an anemic 1.9% rate. The numbers were just short of showing that America has re-entered a recession. Indeed, as more data comes out, that may be what we find. Certainly there are some very respected economic analysts who are predicting a return to recession.

From a political standpoint, these numbers are devastating for president Obama. Writing in "Commentary", Peter Wehner puts it quite well:

The trajectory of events is down, not up. The economy is slowing down. Consumer confidence is dropping. Virtually every economic indicator is getting worse, not better.

This would be very troubling news for any incumbent president – but for one who has virtually no achievements he can point to with pride, it is triply damaging. Whatever fault one wants to ascribe to Obama’s predecessor, and whatever excuses the president can dream up, what is now beyond any reasonable dispute is that Obama has no clue how to fix things. That is not a political judgment; it’s an empirical one.

Barack Obama may be well-intentioned. He may be a fine father. He may have an excellent jump shot. And he may be a first-rate community organizer. But as president, he is simply — and by now almost undeniably — overmatched by events. By Obama’s own standards – by what he said and by what he promised — he is a failure.

Many times, a political analysis like Wehner's is unseen by the general public and even the events being discussed go by without much impact. Not this time! In one day, the Rasmussen tracking poll jumped from showing a Romney lead at 46-45% to a lead for Romney of 48-44%. Since only a third of the interviews in the latest poll came after the economic numbers were released, the swing in the post poll period was enormous; the daily numbers for last night must have been something like a lead for Romney of 52-41%. There was a similar swing in the tracking poll of Obama's job approval (or, more precisely, job disapproval).

We often hear the conventional wisdom that voters attitudes about the economy are fixed in the spring and early summer of an election year. I do not know if that is correct. If it is correct, however, Obama is toast. Let's hope so.

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