Obama 2012 support slips; Now, any generic Republican ties him
President Obama's done a lot of talking recently about Winning the Future. Trouble is, he's not. Politically.
At this moment -- 57% of the way through a first term with only 628 days left until the 2012 presidential election -- the Democrat can only tie any conceivable Republican candidate.
The GOP doesn't even need a frontrunner to catch the incumbent of the most powerful political office in the world. No wonder Obama's bringing fresh blood into the White House and shipping out aides to kick-start the billion-dollar campaign back in Chicago.
A new Gallup Poll finds Obama a little worse off in that generic presidential ballot category this year than he was last year at this time.
And -- this'll get the ex-state senator chewing the nicotine gum faster -- the new Gallup numbers show Obama significantly behind the same standing of his Republican predecessor, that Texas guy who still refuses to reciprocate Obama's criticism of his two terms.
Last February Obama led a generic Republican 44-42. This February, after the invisible "Recovery Summer" and Democrats' historic midterm election shellacking, any Republican ties Obama at 45-45.
At this same calendrical point in George W. Bush's first term, the Republican led any Democrat 47-39. And Bush went on to win a second term against a Massachusetts senator who docks his yacht in Rhode Island. (Anyone remember how Bush won that year? He took the 20 electoral votes of Ohio, which explains Obama's frequent forays there.)
Gallup's numbers show Obama maintaining his voter strength among blacks. Women still prefer him more than men do.
But the youth vote, so crucial to the Democratic ticket last time, is evaporating. Going into the 2008 election Obama had 63% of the registered voters aged 18 to 34. Today, he's got only 51%. Likewise, Obama's support among 35-to-54-year-olds has crumbled from 53% in 2008 to 43% today.
Of course, a lot can change before Nov. 6, 2012. In 1984, Republican Ronald Reagan roared back from 1983 disapproval to win the largest electoral vote victory in American history over another Democratic ex-senator. But Reagan rode atop the kind of surging economy that few experts see erupting in the next 20 months.
Obama's contemporary vulnerability could also lure a surfeit of ambitious candidates into the late-starting field for the GOP nomination in Tampa, prompting an unusually divisive and expensive primary season on the right side of the political aisle. At the moment though, the would-be Republican candidates could take turns, it seems, and still tie Obama.
-- Andrew Malcolm
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Photo: Jason Reed / Reuters; Larry Downing / Reuters (a happy Obama).