A Year Left: Obama Running Against History

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obama2With today marking the one-year countdown to Election Day 2012 and his approval rating stuck in the low 40s, President Obama will have to defy American electoral history if he is to win re-election.

At 43 percent approval in a Gallup poll conducted Oct. 28-30, Mr. Obama recently referred to himself as an “underdog” – with good reason. Of all the presidents since World War II whose job-approval scores were lower than 50 percent one year before Election Day, only one went on to win a second term.

That was President Nixon, whose job approval stood at 49 percent in November 1971. He rebounded to defeat Democrat George McGovern in a landslide in 1972.

Mr. Obama does have some advantages. He is still a formidable fundraiser, having amassed more than $150 million for his campaign and the Democratic National Committee this year.

Also, his re-election operation is more robust than any of the GOP camps, which are waging a long and costly primary battle. Mr. Obama’s campaign is able to build on a 50-state network from 2008, an email list of more than 9 million potential supporters and an experienced staff with unequaled savvy in digital marketing and social networking.

In early polling of head-to-head matchups with potential GOP candidates, Mr. Obama comes out on top in nearly every instance. One poll in the battleground state of Florida this week showed former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney tied with Mr. Obama.

Those factors give Democrats hope that Mr. Obama can pull out a victory.

“It’s too early to write the script or the strategy, but here’s what I know: The odds are 2012 will be close,” said Democratic strategist Donna Brazile, the presidential campaign manager for Al Gore in 2000. “There are so many factors that will determine the outcome of the election next year: mood of the country, opponents, money and message and changing demographics of the election.”

The popularity of presidential incumbents at the three-year mark has ranged from Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower’s high of 78 percent in November 1955 to Democrat Jimmy Carter’s low of 32 percent in November 1979. Mr. Eisenhower had no trouble defeating Adlai Stevenson in 1956. Mr. Carter lost, overwhelmingly, to Ronald Reagan in 1980.

Democrat Lyndon B. Johnson, in the midst of the Vietnam War, had a popularity rating of 42 percent in November 1967; he chose not to run for re-election in 1968. The only president since World War II to lose re-election with a 50-plus approval rating in his third year was Republican George H.W. Bush, who stood at 59 percent job approval in November 1991 but lost to Bill Clinton in a three-way race in 1992.

The prospect of a third-party candidate in 2012, perhaps someone with the support of the tea party movement, intrigues Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia.

“If we have third-party or independent candidates, it is possible for Obama to have a low- to mid-40s approval rating and win,” Mr. Sabato said. “Nixon ‘68 and Clinton ‘92 each got 43 percent of the vote. [Woodrow] Wilson and [Abraham] Lincoln [in 1912 and 1860, respectively] received around 40 percent of the vote in multicandidate fields. The structure of the ballot will matter enormously, depending on whether we have additional candidates and who they are.”

But Mr. Sabato cautioned that job-approval numbers are meaningful only in the late summer or early fall of the election year.

“Presidential approval one full year out is not helpful in determining what will occur in November 2012,” Mr. Sabato said. “The old rule used to be that a president had to have approval in the 50 percent range at election time to get a second term. But George W. Bush had 48 percent in early November 2004 and still won. His superior financing and organization pulled him over the finish line against John Kerry.”

Another statistical guide that has been much discussed is the unemployment rate’s impact on a president’s political fortunes. No president since Franklin D. Roosevelt has won a second term when the unemployment rate was higher than 7.2 percent. Reagan won in 1984 with a jobless rate at 7.2 percent.

The unemployment rate has been 9 percent or higher for most of the year, but Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner said Mr. Obama still could win.

“Of course he could be elected with that because he has got a better strategy for helping heal the wounds of this country,” Mr. Geithner said.

{The Washington Times/Matzav.com Newscenter}


  1. Now is the time for us to intensify pressure on President Obama to release Jonathan Pollard and Sholom Rubashkin, with a clear threat to vote Republican (which many of us intend to do anyway) if he does not.

    After the election, the president (Obama or his opponent) will have a four-year term, with no need to respond.

  2. Obama can’t loose as is seen in the work by Alan Lichtman and his world renowned mathematics expert who cowrote the book
    The 13 Keys.

    Lichtman correctly predicted whether the party of the sitting president would win the popular vote of every election since 1982, the year he began the predictions.

    5 of his predictions were made one to three years before the election, and two of them were made between 6 and 12 months prior to the election.
    He was correct every time and predicted obama will win as of more than a 1-1/2 years ago. He has gone so far to say that the 13 keys provide no way he can lose.

    Every one of his predictions was made more
    The mathematical chance he wont win is zero.


  3. Every sitting U.S. president seeking re-election during a recession in the last 150 years who met 2 conditions has won re-election:
    Condition # 1- his nomination wasn’t contested at his party’s convention
    Condition # 2- he passed Major legislation regardless of how popular it was.
    Obama fits the bill

  4. From the sound of it Obama’s gonna be around for another 5 years. Fact is most incumbent presidents take a second term. All the people getting excited over his departure have another thing coming their way. And to top it off with another simple fact: there has been hardly any difference between Bush and Obama and so all the rehetoric against him is plainly futile and senseless. 1. Bush didn’t pardon Polard. 2. Bush sanctioned Israel over settlements. 3. Bush was all for the raid of the Rubashkin plant. 4. Bush’s economic policies weren’t bringing in anymore jobs then Obamas plan. 5. Bush cozyed up to Abas and all the terrorist leaders including saudia arabian ones. Only difference was Bush spoke more friendly to Israel and had more of a understanding with them. And so what difference did it make on the ground? He still brought about the gush katif disaster! There’s not much difference in the presidents it’s all mostly shtusim!

  5. #1
    Do you really think he cares about our silly Jewish vote? NO WAY!!! It’s not a local election – the country has millions of voters and our measilly 52,256 petitioners ain’t gonna sway his decision one iota! On the contrary, if he will lose, as we all hope, he could care less! Remember, we’re the Yidden and the Halach, v;yadua Sh’Eisav Sonay es Yaakov!
    Let’s remember, Anu, Ain Lanu L’hishaein Ela Al Avinu Sh’baShomayim! Tomorrow night is Mama Rochel’s Yohrtzeit! Let’s all donate Tzedaka in her z’chus and ask “HER” to daven on behalf of Shalom Mordchai ben Rivka and Yonason ben Malka!
    Oh, and don’t forget the rest of us too!

  6. regarding comment #8 who wrote “Only difference was Bush spoke more friendly to Israel and had more of a understanding with them.”

    this has been proven a propaganda lie by various media organs including http://gwbushandobama.blogspot.com/

    so why does everyone keep repeating it and misleading klal yisroel.

    it isn’t Obama who is different from bush it is organizations like the republicans and the Likud who were silent when bush and Condi carried out all of their proposals and applied all verbal pressure to israel.
    Obama is simply repeating the same policies.


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