- - Sunday, July 22, 2012

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

At the end of last week, a liberal guest on a radio talk show declared that not much was going on in the presidential campaign — not much save for Mitt Romney’s tenure with Bain Capital and whether he would release 20 years worth of tax returns, as demanded by Team Obama.

But that’s the problem with those liberal goggles: When you put them on, you just can’t see the forest for the trees.

A lot happened last week — and none of it was good for President Obama.

Unable to run on his record, the president has of late turned sharply negative, blanketing the nation — and especially the swing states — with a barrage of what his campaign calls “contrast ads.” In all, the floundering incumbent has laid out some $100 million in what are plain old “attack” ads, dwarfing Mr. Romney’s ad spending.

One ad showed the presumptive Republican nominee singing “America the Beautiful” — off-key, of course. Overlaid on the screen are claims that Mr. Romney’s companies outsourced jobs to Mexico, India and China, and that he has had investments in Bermuda, Switzerland and the Cayman Islands.

In June alone, the Obama campaign burned through $58 million — $70.8 million when combined with the Democratic National Committee. Meanwhile, for the second month in a row, the Romney machine outraised Mr. Obama and his partners $105 million to $70 million.

What much of the mainstream media missed — deliberately — was the effect of Mr. Obama’s negative onslaught. But the results were all there, albeit buried, in a New York Times/CBS News poll on Thursday, which found that Mr. Romney has taken the lead, 45 percent to 43 percent. In paragraph seven, the NYT states: “It is the first time Mr. Romney has shown a numeric edge in the Times/CBS poll since he emerged from the primaries as the presumptive nominee.” Well, that’s something that liberal talking head missed.

Team Romney, though, didn’t miss it. “Despite all of the negative advertising from the Obama campaign, polling numbers are exactly where they were before they started this onslaught,” the campaign said in a memo.

Back to the NYT: “The poll includes a drop in Mr. Obama’s favorability ratings, with 36 percent saying they viewed him favorably and 48 percent saying they did not. In April, 42 percent expressed a favorable opinion of him and 45 percent an unfavorable one.” If you’re keeping score at home, that’s a 6-point drop.

“The poll showed a significant shift in opinion about Mr. Obama’s handling of the economy, with 39 percent now saying they approved and 55 percent saying they disapproved. In the Times/CBS poll in April, when the economy seemed to have momentum, 44 percent approved and 48 percent disapproved.” That’s a 7-point jump in disapproval.

In addition, 58 percent said Mr. Obama “had not delivered on his 2008 campaign pledge for change.” That’s nearly 6 in 10.

Still, as expected, the New York Times did its best to defend its president on his plunging favorability rating. “That change may have been affected by a reordering of this particular set of questions, which at this point in general election cycles are typically placed near the top of the survey. During the primary season, the questions about favorability were placed lower on the survey after queries about presidential job approval and other topics.” Yeah, OK, whatever.

Meanwhile, CBS dropped this bombshell in its take on the joint poll: “More than one in three Romney voters say they are supporting Romney primarily because they dislike Mr. Obama.” Well, there’s another thing that happened that political pundit missed.

Also from CBS: “Three and a half months before Election Day, Republican enthusiasm about voting this year has shot up since Mitt Romney clinched the nomination in April, from 36 percent of Republicans saying they were more enthusiastic in March to 49 percent now.”

Now, there were a lot of other things that have happened in just the last week or 10 days: The weekly jobless number surged to 386,000; a new report showed foreclosures are hitting the elderly hard, especially blacks and Hispanics; factory output plunged to a 10-month low; home sales dropped 5.4%, the biggest drop in nine months; retail sales dropped for the third month in a row; food prices and inflation increased. Oh, and more Americans are joining the ranks of the “disabled” than finding jobs. And last, this AP headline from Sunday: “U.S. poverty on track to rise to highest since 1960s.”

So really, a lot is happening in the presidential campaign — but liberal talking heads can’t see a thing with their heads buried in the sand.

• Joseph Curl covered the White House and politics for a decade for The Washington Times. He can be reached at jcurl@washingtontimes.com