By Cliff Young and Chris Jackson
The opinions expressed are their own.
The Obama administration finds itself between a rock and a hard place. On one side, an emboldened Republican Party smells blood, with their largely successful (politically speaking) full court press on the debt issue and dominance of the news cycle. On the other, the economic news—both domestically and internationally—has been depressing at best, and downright scary at worst.
Given this dreary backdrop, the common wisdom among pundits and politicos is that Obama has been winged and is beatable in 2012. Pundits offer varied reasons for this new found pessimism in Obama.
Some cite the dangers of a weakening economy on voters’ mood for “more of the same.” Indeed, history suggests that no post-WWII president has won reelection when the unemployment rate was above 7.2 percent—bad news for Obama since unemployment looks to remain above 8.5 percent over the next year. Others stress Obama moving too far to the left with a “big government” agenda, while others say Obama has alienated his base by giving in too readily to Republican demands. Underlining all these critiques are warnings of a Carter-esque “crisis of confidence” scenario where voters lose faith in Obama’s leadership.
However, is this pessimism warranted? Is Obama truly on shaky ground? To answer these questions, we base our analysis on a database of 140 elections from 25 countries used for electoral forecasting and poll validation here at Ipsos.
So what does the empirical evidence suggest?
Taken as a whole, Obama is still a favorite. That being said, he is dangerously close to the tipping point between a clear favorite and a struggling contender. We detail our logic below.