I have refrained, so far, from making 2012 general election prognostications. (I have suggested that Mitt Romney is almost certainly the GOP nominee, and I’ll stand by that, because God doesn’t love me enough to put Rick Santorum at the top of the GOP ticket this fall.) I have felt, for the past few months, that if Europe can keep from imploding over the next nine months, Barack Obama will probably be re-elected. And I think that’s still pretty much the case. Unemployment claims are trending down, job growth and the stock market are trending up, and Obama is still the guy who killed bin Laden, pulled us out of Iraq and is getting us out (too slowly for my taste, but still) of Afghanistan.
But nothing has helped him so much as the tawdry reality show that is GOP Primary: 2012.
The chart above is the trend of aggregated polls (excluding Rasmussen) over the last nine months. Notice anything happening around, say, early January?
And then there’s this: Mitt Romney’s favorability:
I think the technical term for this is “grim.”
And then there’s this quaint idea that the GOP path to victory is paved with the crushed reproductive rights of women everywhere. (Case in point: Virginia voted today to require a vaginal ultrasound before a woman may have an abortion, although the law doesn’t require that the woman actually look at the images provided. As the Great Orange Satan noted, that is actually, um, rape. I’m sure that the kindly men behind this bill wouldn’t consider it “forcible.”)
I have a Republican friend who rationalizes her votes for people who disagree with her on virtually every social issue (she’s pro-choice, pro gay marriage, pro contraception) by saying that Republicans won’t be able to actually enact the restrictions they forth about continually. And while that may work for her, people who want a job might be interested to see Republicans talk about stuff that creates jobs that aren’t on the vagina police.
I know I shouldn’t be giving the GOP advice, but I can’t help myself (and they won’t listen, anyway): this is not the path to an electoral majority.
Meanwhile, Ron Brownstein kindly notes that while pundits were fretting about the decline in Obama’s support among left-handed hispanics who live in exurban areas, the coalition that elected him has come all the way home:
Whether the electorate is viewed by race, gender, partisanship or ideology (or combinations of the above), Obama’s numbers against Romney now closely align with his support against McCain, according to the 2008 exit polls. Overall, the Pew survey put Obama ahead of Romney by 52 percent to 44 percent, close to his actual 53 percent to 46 percent victory over McCain.
On the broadest measure, Pew found Obama attracting 44 percent of whites (compared to 43 percent in 2008) and 79 percent of non-whites (compared to 80 percent in 2008). In the Pew survey, Obama attracted 49 percent of whites with at least a four year college degree (compared to 47 percent against McCain) and 41 percent of whites without one (compared to 40 percent in 2008).
Looking at ideology, the reversion to 2008 is almost exact. Against Romney, Pew finds Obama attracting 89 percent of liberals, 20 percent of conservatives (each exactly his share against McCain), and 61 percent of moderates (compared to 60 percent in 2008.) On partisanship, the story is similar: against Romney, Pew finds Obama attracting 9 percent of Republicans (exactly his 2008 share), 51 percent of independents (compared to 52 percent last time) and 94 percent of Democrats (up from 89 percent in 2008). In the Pew survey, Obama wins 46 percent of white independents (compared to the 47 percent he drew against McCain).
There’s only slightly more variation by gender. In 2008, Obama won 49 percent of men; Pew finds him with 45 percent against Romney. Against McCain, Obama won 56 percent of women; Pew finds him drawing 59 percent against Romney. Among white men, Pew finds Obama’s support slipping from 41 percent in 2008 to 36 percent now (with all of the decline coming among white men without a college degree, the toughest audience throughout his presidency.) Among white women, though, Pew finds Obama rising from 46 percent in 2008 to 52 percent against Romney-and recording gains among both college-plus women (whom he carried last time) and the working-class “waitress moms” who strongly preferred McCain.
I’m sure three more months of Romney, Santorum, and the increasingly irrelevant Newt Gingrich arguing over who is best at controlling our nation’s ladyparts will bring those women right back to the GOP.
It is, as they say, an eternity to election day. But I’m going to put it out there: Obama’s going to get re-elected come November 6. I’m far more sure of that than of whom he’ll be beating.
UPDATE: Yahoo has jumped on my bandwagon.