There’s still plenty of time for circumstances to change, but the Weekly Standard‘s Jay Cost notes in his most recent article that current election data look very bad for the president’s re-election bid.
Horse race polls are of limited value this far from Election Day. The 10 to 15 percent of the electorate in the middle—the slice of voters who swing elections—aren’t paying much attention. Sometimes these voters do not make a decision until the very last minute, as was the case in the 1980 campaign between Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter.
Still, the polls offer some guidance. The RealClearPolitics.com average of them shows Obama earning just 43 percent when matched against an unnamed Republican, and only 46 percent when matched against Mitt Romney. This is bad for the president because public opinion about an incumbent is pretty firm and difficult—though not impossible—to move, absent shifts in the broader political context.
And what to make of that context? Each presidential election is fought over a series of shifting national concerns, and the issues of the 2012 cycle are the least favorable for an incumbent president since 1992, and maybe even since 1980. And we know what happened to the incumbents in those elections.
Three issues in particular dominate the discussion, and none of them favors Obama.