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Since our last episode, on November 6, one year before the national elections, much has changed in the race for president. We are currently in the middle (end? beginning?) of the Gingrich ascendancy, and there is some evidence (from this CBS News poll) that Newt could pull off a stunning comeback win in Iowa, which would put him in terrific position for New Hampshire, South Carolina, Florida and Nevada later in January. So with that appetizing thought in our heads, let’s move on to the main meal.
Obama Job Approval
The latest RealClearPolitics Index of Obama’s job approval is here. Since last month, Obama’s approval has dropped from 45.3% to 43.8% and his disapproval has risen slightly, from 50.7% in November to 50.8% today. A look at the main 3-day averages that RCP uses, Gallup and Rasmussen, shows almost no change in Obama’s improvement. Further, this article puts Obama’s approval lower than Jimmy Carter’s at the same stage in their presidencies. Clearly, this is not good news for the President’s supporters.
These number tell a much different story. While more Americans disapprove of the job the president is doing, they favor him over every other prospective Republican nominee.
He’s also slightly ahead of Mitt Romney in the swing state of Florida, but only by 1 point.
The Republican Field
It’s the Newt show at this point, and that’s a very recent phenomenon, coming on the heels of, and in some ways caused by, the implosion of Herman Cain’s campaign. The numbers are stark and solid, but the real question is, how long will they last?
Perhaps more troubling for Mitt Romney’s campaign are these results from pollsandvotes.com showing Romney’s support actually dropping in the first four states to hold votes next month. If Mitt doesn’t watch out, he might be in a position where a less-than-solid win in New Hampshire could be seen as a failure or a “he’s supposed to win” moment that doesn’t pay off in the long run.
My sense is that Romney will win most of the January states simply because, at this point, Gingrich doesn’t have a presence in these states that would allow him to conduct the retail politics necessary to corral votes. It’s even more uphill for Newt in Iowa, where getting your people to the caucuses is the main concern. Still, he does have money and is beginning to air TV ads that will reach far more people than getting out and shaking hands.
But Romney also has to be concerned. Conservatives will show up in droves this year, and he could find himself third, behind Ron Paul and Michele Bachmann. That would be quite a fall. Romney didn’t think he would have to fight hard for Iowa since he’s been in the state for the past two years, but that’s changed now.
And neither has the Generic Congressional Ballot, which shows Democrats leading Republicans by 1.2%
Although it’s very early in the campaign, Obama’s strategists have mapped out his electoral college strategy, and it looks something like this:
First, the president is aiming to win all the states John Kerry won in 2004. That would bring him to 246 electoral votes, including Pennsylvania’s mother lode of 20. Add New Mexico, which the president won in 2008, and that’s five more electoral votes. Now he’s at 251.
Then it gets hard. The final 19 electoral votes would come through a process of mix and match.
North Carolina, Virginia, Florida, Ohio, and even Arizona are in the mix, with each showing both promise and peril for Obama’s reelection chances.
That’s it for now. Before I push-off for the holidays (I’ll post another polling report on January 3 for Iowa), let me suggest some gifts for the political junkie in your household. Or in your shoes.
From Amazon, if you’re one of those people who still reads (how 2009!)