Let’s get a few things straight about the presidential race between President Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. It’s not a dead heat anymore.
Everyone knew this was going to be a close race, but as of this week, Mr. Romney moved slightly ahead of President Obama. Not by much, maybe a couple of points, but he clearly has begun to move into the lead.
Heading into July, the race clearly was a tie, with the Gallup Poll showing each candidate at 46 percent in its head-to-head daily surveys. But something happened this week that appears to have changed the political equation.
Perhaps it was Mr. Romney’s choice of veteran Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, chairman of the powerful House Budget Committee. Or more evidence of the Obama economy’s persistent weakness and soaring gasoline prices. Or the tough TV ads Mr. Romney’s campaign has begun running after months of being punched around by an avalanche of negative ads in the battleground states.
Whatever the reason, the numbers began slowly but clearly to edge Mr. Romney’s way, and Mr. Obama’s numbers took a nose dive on his job-approval ratings.
The first indication that Mr. Obama’s shaky presidency was taking a tumble came Monday, when the Gallup Poll’s daily tracking survey showed his job-approval numbers plunging to 43 percent and his disapproval climbing to 50 percent.
Then, on Wednesday, Gallup’s candidate matchup suddenly was leaning in Mr. Romney’s direction, 47 percent to the president’s 45 percent. That’s where things stood heading into Friday.
While a number of factors are contributing to Mr. Obama’s slight decline and Mr. Romney’s rise in the national polls, there is no doubt the economy and jobs are the biggest factors driving this race.
Gallup proved that Thursday when it released new poll numbers showing voters were giving Mr. Obama some of the worst scores of his failed presidency on the economy, job creation and four years of $1 trillion-plus deficits that most trouble the American people.
White House morale, which reportedly is declining fast, must have sunk even further when staffers looked at Mr. Obama’s bleak approval-disapproval numbers on these issues:
Creating jobs: 37 percent approval and 58 percent disapproval.
The economy: 36 percent approval and 60 percent disapproval.
The federal budget deficits: 30 percent approval and 64 percent disapproval.
These aren’t just disastrous job-approval scores, they are among the worst in recent presidencies, including the one Mr. Obama followed in 2009.
“Obama’s ratings on the economy are significantly worse than all three prior successful presidential incumbents at this same point in their first term,” Gallup reported Thursday.