Weeks of vicious attacks by the Obama campaign assailing Mitt Romney’s character and making questionable charges about his stewardship of Bain Capital have yielded the following result: the latest national poll, released by the New York Times, shows Romney with a slight edge.
With little record to run on, an economy mired in slow growth, and unemployment stuck above eight percent, the Obama team must face the possibility that it is unloading some of its only rhetorical ammunition without result. And after burning through $100 million of his money on campaign ads, Obama has failed to establish a lead over his rival.
The poll suggests an extraordinarily dangerous possibility for the Obama campaign: that concerns about the dismal economy trump all other issues and provide Romney with a teflon coating with which he can deflect the bullets of the grinding Obama attack machine.
The poll puts Romney slightly ahead, 45 to 43 percent. But perhaps even more serious for Obama is that only 39 percent say they approve of his handling of the economy – compared to 44 percent in April – while 55 percent say they disapprove, up from 48 percent.
Meanwhile, Obama’s overall approval rating, which had been flirting with a rise above the crucial 50 percent barrier, stands currently at 46 percent, according to the daily Gallup tracking poll. The New York Times puts Obama’s approval at 44 percent.
The barrage against Romney from the Obama campaign has included charges – widely questioned by independent observers – that he presided over the offshoring of jobs as head of Bain Capital, as well as suggestions that he may have cheated on his taxes.
The unrelenting attacks by Obama may also be having a subtler deleterious effect on his campaign.
The president is having trouble meeting his fundraising goals and must log countless miles traversing the country to try to fill his coffers. The financial shortfall is reflective of the depleted enthusiasm for Obama among his supporters, who have watched as he has unintentionally rebranded himself from the 2008 candidate of hope and change into a crude politician willing to do whatever it takes to ensure his political survival.