I wanted to flag for you a piece running in POLITICO today that questions the rationale for the recent perky optimism being emitted by the Obama operation.
The campaign and the White House have put out word recently that they and the boss are buoyed by recent positive numbers on the economy, a rise in Obama’s polls, and signs of deeply ingrained ineptitude plaguing their Republican opposition.
But while Mitt Romney certainly needs to go back to the laboratory where he was created for some fine tuning, the economy and the polls are not quite what many Democrats seem to think. Or say they think.
In the piece, POLITICO Executive Editor Jim VandeHei points to a widely overlooked nugget of data to be found in Wednesday’s Congressional Budget Office economic forecast, noting that the CBO is predicting an 8.8 percent unemployment rate around Election Day.
That, as VandeHei suggests, would be catastrophic for the Obama campaign.
Part of the New Optimism message is predicated on the unemployment rate having dropped from above 9 percent to its current level of 8.5 percent. If it starts going up again, the recent decrease will actually work against the president, because Republicans will be able to claim that after almost four years of Obama, joblessness is rising.
What’s more, CBO says we’re looking at about 2.2 percent growth in the third quarter. That, to put it in the technical jargon of economists, sucks.
Meanwhile, the polls, VandeHei notes, are not particularly encouraging in the states that matter.
The president had a 50 percent or better approval rating last year in only 10 states and the District of Columbia. In five states that could decide the election — Colorado, Florida, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia — Obama’s slide has been steep and uniform. In each state, approval in 2011 had fallen 12 or 13 percentage points from 2009 levels.
And the Obama campaign strategy of trying to crush their eventual GOP opposition with dollar bills doesn’t seem to be working.
Look at the latest numbers: Romney, the RNC and the super PAC run by his allies have raised a total of $175.7 million during 2011; Obama, the DNC and the super PAC run by his allies have raised $209.3 million. As far as cash on hand, Obama enjoys an edge but not a decisive one: $96 million to $63.5 million.
This doesn’t factor in super PAC American Crossroads and sister nonprofit group Crossroads GPS, which plan on raising as much as $240 million for the election cycle, or the political spending of the Koch brothers, David and Charles, who together plan to funnel $200 million to various conservative groups this cycle. It is possible Republicans could actually outspend Obama.
So when you see cheerful Obamaites on TV and view the president with his newly chipper affect, remember that this is as likely a facade to energize the grassoots and open up donors’ wallets as it is a true sign of the current state of mind in the West Wing and at campaign HQ in Chicago.