While President Obama turned in a lackluster debate performance that was panned by Republicans and Democrats alike, he got some good news yesterday: according to a new Gallup poll his approval rating now stands at 54%, the highest it has been in 3 years. Historically, Presidents with an approval rating above 50% have been reelected while those under 50% have struggled and often lost.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the Obama campaign raised $150 million in September. The Washington Post has a different report, saying that the total was between $114 million and $193 million. The campaign itself was playing coy for the moment, But it is clear that the September haul was better than the $114 million raised in August. The Romney campaign has not leaked any numbers. Official reports are due Sept. 20.
Admitting that he was far too passive in yesterday's debate, President Obama gave a pair of fiery speeches in two swing states, Colorado and Wisconsin, yesterday and promised more to come. He wondered whether he faced the real Mitt Romney in the debate or an imposter because the real Mitt Romney has been flying around the country all year promising the rich a $5 trillion tax cut but the fellow on stage Wednesday didn't know anything about it. He also mocked Romney for wanting to fire Big Bird by cutting off the subsidies to PBS.
Incumbent Presidents often have trouble in their first reelection debate because they haven't had to debate in 4 years and are surrounded by people who say: "Yes, Mr. President" at the drop of a pin. George W. Bush was widely seen as the loser in the first 2004 debate with John Kerry, for example.
Mitt Romney moved sharply to the center in yesterday's debate. He denied he was planning a big tax cut for the rich. Up until yesterday, the centerpiece of his campaign has been a big tax cut for what he calls "the job creators" so they can go about their work of creating jobs. Suddenly that is off the table. Another huge pivot is regulations. He has been railing against them all year, but yesterday he said government regulations are essential to a modern economy. At this point he knows that the right-wing of the Republican Party is so invested in him that they will pretty much all vote for him no matter what he says now, but for independent voters who may not have paid any attention until now, he wants to come over as a moderate.
Romney is now framing the race as a choice between the failed policies of Obama and his new policies. To insiders, this is essentially an admission that his campaign strategy has failed. Elections featuring an incumbent are normally referendums on the incumbent, whereas open-seat elections are about choices. Up until now, Romney has done nothing but hammer Obama on how his economic policies have failed. This is normal for a referendum election. But now all of a sudden, the election is a choice between two visions rather than a referendum on the incumbent. Romney clearly sees that the previous strategy has not worked, so he is going to try a new one.
Mitt Romney just lost one of his talking points. During the first debate he harped on the fact that the unemployment rate has been above 8% for 40 months. It's not any more. The September jobs report has come out and it's all good news for Obama. The economy added 114,000 jobs in September and the unemployment rate dropped to 7.8%. Additionally, the July and August statistics were revised, with the actual number of jobs added being 86,000 more than originally reported. Employment is now higher and unemployment lower than when Obama took office, a time when the economy was bleeding 600,000 jobs per month.
There is no joy in Boston today. While the debate has not been completely forgotten already, the new jobs data will dominate the news for several days and Obama will be saying: "We have now had 31 consecutive months of job growth and the stock market is up 60%." Romney's argument that Obama can't handle the economy becomes much weaker when the data shows it slowly growing, albeit not so fast as everyone would prefer.
Conservatives have reacted to these new numbers by simply denying them and suggesting that a 0.3% drop from 8.1% to 7.8% is inconceivable. During the months of joblessness above 8%, the accuracy of the Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers was never called into question, however.
During the primaries, Romney mauled Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) by hitting him on as being too liberal on immigration, in particular his support of in-state tuition at state universities for young Latinos brought to the U.S. illegally as children. Romney's chickens are now coming home to roost. A new poll from Latino Decisions, a nonpartisan firm specializing in polling Latinos in English and Spanish, shows Obama with an unprecedented lead of 61% among Nevada Latinos, 78% to 17%. Even in Florida, with its large Republican-leaning Cuban-American community, Obama's lead is 30%, 61% to 31%. These numbers are better than 2008 for Obama. Unless Romney can turn this sentiment around very fast, Nevada is going to be beyond his reach and Florida is going to be an uphill struggle,
For decades, exit poll data has been reported for all 50 states. This year, breaking with tradition, state-by-state results will be released for only 31 states. The networks that pay for the exit polling cite increasing costs for not breaking down data for states without competitive races.
|Connecticut||54%||42%||Sep 28||Oct 02||Quinnipiac U.|
|Hawaii||62%||30%||Sep 26||Sep 28||Merriman River Group|
|Louisiana||37%||50%||Sep 29||Sep 30||JZ Analytics|
|Massachusetts||60%||34%||Sep 25||Sep 30||Opinion Dynamics|
|Missouri||46%||49%||Oct 02||Oct 02||Rasmussen|
|Wisconsin||49%||39%||Sep 29||Sep 30||JZ Analytics|
|State||Democrat||D %||Republican||R %||I||I %||Start||End||Pollster|
|Connecticut||Chris Murphy||47%||Linda McMahon||48%||Sep 28||Oct 02||Quinnipiac U.|
|Massachusetts||Elizabeth Warren||48%||Scott Brown*||44%||Sep 25||Sep 30||Opinion Dynamics|
|Washington||Maria Cantwell*||57%||Michael Baumgartner||37%||Sep 26||Sep 26||Rasmussen|