- - Sunday, August 26, 2012

Grade: D

“The Republicans are gathering in Tampa and the pressure is all on Mitt Romney to show not only that he can unify his party but also that he can control his right flank. His big problem of late has been Rep. Todd Akin, the pro-life U.S. Senate candidate from Missouri who absolutely refuses to get out of his race against previously declared all but dead Sen. Claire McCaskill, despite being urged by Mr. Romney, his running mate, Paul Ryan, and numerous other party leaders to do so.

Mr. Romney has to ensure that he asserts himself as party leader. At the same time, with an approaching hurricane in Tampa, Mr. Romney can count on the wind at his sails from another economic report showing just how badly the middle class has been wrecked during the last four years. The new report holds little hope that the economy can turn around before the election.

“My poll today for The Washington Times has the race all tied up nationally. It has President Obama leading in Florida but trailing in North Carolina — but another poll has Mr. Romney ahead in Michigan, enough for the aggregators at Real Clear Politics to move Michigan out of the Obama column. With 18 electoral voters, that is a blow to the president’s bid. The sum total of bad economic news, the potential for a united Republican Party and a bad poll in Michigan make for a bad presidential week.”

Last week’s grade: C-

Follow pollster John Zogby on Twitter (@thejohnzogby)