The Obama campaign machine is firing up, and its most important fuel is the media. For the millions of Americans who get their news from the networks, most cable programs or the average kneejerk liberal newspaper, it’s a foregone conclusion that President Obama will get a second term. This is supposedly because the economy is rebounding and Mitt Romney is a flawed candidate. None of these pro-Barack assumptions are true.
Exhibit A in the People v. Barack H. Obama is the Rasmussen Reports poll that measures what percentage of voters believe America is on the right track versus those who fear we are heading in the wrong direction. According to data released a week ago, 65 percent of Americans say the nation is going the wrong way. A mere 27 percent think the country under Mr. Obama is going the right way. Those are devastating numbers for an incumbent.
The current president is still playing the lame game of trying to tag these days of malaise on his predecessor, President George W. Bush, but that redirect doesn’t work after four years in the Oval Office. This political reality is revealed in the downward spiral in the Rasmussen Right Direction/Wrong Track poll, in which the percentage of voters who think America is going in the right direction has plummeted 7 points from 34 percent in less than two months.
Mr. Obama’s argument for re-election is in a similar free fall as the nation remains mired in misery. Unemployment is stuck in the gutter, gas prices are sky-high, the national debt is overshadowing gross domestic product, over 51 million Americans are on food stamps, and the housing market can’t get out of the basement, with millions of homeowners underwater on their mortgages and unable to sell their property. It’s a wonder that even a scarce 24 percent strongly approve of the job Mr. Obama is doing, according to Rasmussen.
This adds up to a huge opportunity for Mr. Romney. The fact of the matter is most people don’t have to like a challenger all that much when an incumbent is as thorough of a failure as Mr. Obama. Sometimes, it’s enough to simply be the alternative. That’s not to suggest the former Massachusetts governor isn’t running a smart campaign and gradually convincing Americans he’s the right man at the right time. In the latest Rasmussen Reports survey released Wednesday, Mr. Romney leads Mr. Obama in a head-to-head race by a significant 5 points, 49 percent to 44 percent.
While Mr. Romney doesn’t currently attract a majority of voters, his position is strong considering that he has just survived a bruising months-long primary contest while Mr. Obama enjoyed the benefit of being able to sit out a primary fight and avoid taking arrows from his own team. If anything, though, the Republican primary was a useful experience for the elephants’ eventual standard-bearer because it toughened up Mr. Romney and provided the platform to hone his anti-Obama message on the stump in front of anxious voters.
The GOP challenger is improving every day while the outlook for the liberal incumbent continues to decline. Mr. Obama is looking increasingly like a loser. As the election draws nearer, Mr. Romney could turn this race into a rout.
Brett M. Decker is editorial page editor of The Washington Times. He is coauthor of the new book “Bowing to Beijing” (Regnery, 2011).