The 2012 election is turning out to be tougher for the incumbent than expected. The Republican candidate was supposed to be bruised and broken from a brutal primary. The economy was supposed to be better. The electorate was supposed to be more enthusiastic. Re-election was assured, or so it was thought.
Instead, the race is neck and neck. Republicans hold the financial edge over President Obama, who has had to accept seven-figure lifeline infusions of cash from billionaires such as George Soros just to stay competitive. The economy has sagged. Jobs are in short supply. The crowds are not turning out the way they used to. The Republican candidates act like winners, while Mr. Obama is saddled with a gaffe machine and has to fight perceptions that he is tired and uninspired. There are no more Grecian columns, just Grecian Formula.
In September, CNN hosted a panel of undecided voters who listened to Mr. Obama's speech at the Democratic National Convention. They came away generally unimpressed. The phrase that came up was "Obama fatigue." That's a change from four years ago, when Mr. Obama could do no wrong.
The bar had been set high, but Mr. Obama could not heal the planet and lower the seas. He could not unite the races and bring peace to the world. He could not deliver on his promises of jobs and prosperity. He struggles to explain exactly what he has achieved, other than ramming through a health care reform law that most voters rightly reject -- that and killing a terrorist who was as tired of running as Mr. Obama is.
Most polls give Mr. Obama a slight edge because they assume Democrats will carry the same margin they did in 2008. Though surveys disagree markedly on which party has more adherents and by how much, they all agree that Democratic Party identification has slipped since 2008. Measures of enthusiasm generally give the nod to Republicans at levels approximating the 2010 "red tide" election that gave the GOP control of the House. Common sense dictates Mr. Obama will win few if any states by greater margins than he did when he was the fresh, new face on the national stage. New data from the Pew Center show 91 percent of households it attempts to survey either can't be reached or refuse to cooperate. Statistics like that call the entire polling enterprise into question.
There are alternative indicators showing a relative lack of passion on the Democratic side. Amazon's 2012 election "heat map" currently shows 57 percent of books purchased have a conservative slant, compared to 43 percent that lean to the left. If electoral votes were allocated by book purchases, Mr. Romney would win by a landslide. In Ohio, a critical swing state that most polls put in the Obama column, Republican absentee ballot requests already have outpaced their 2008 level, while Democratic requests are at about 60 percent of four years ago.
People are tired of the lack of progress in fixing the economy. They are alarmed at the collapse of American influence abroad. They are weary of the relentless, insulting spin emanating from the White House. They seek inspiration, encouragement and hope for the future. Instead, they are stuck with a warmed-over economy and yesterday's leftover promises.
The Washington Times
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.