Friday, September 30, 2011

Obama's Turning Point

Mark it down because even though the presidential election is over 13 months away, this week will come down as one of its turning points.


Two reasons.

By asking the Supreme Court to rule quickly on the health care law, Obama is taking a calculated gamble that he will ultimately prevail, thereby depriving the Republicans of their most potent issue in 2012. If he wins the case, and retired Justice John Paul Stevens thinks he will, then it's a great political and social victory. If the law is struck down, Obama will have time to pivot and run on fixing the law, as opposed to any Republican candidate who can only run on repealing it.

Obama will run hard on the law, highlighting the fact that it's covering people who formerly had no insurance or can now stay on their parent's insurance if they need to. And given the fact that the out-of-control insurance industry is raising rates through the roof despite reports that people are actually using less insurance during the recession, Obama will have the better argument. Plus, it's unlikely that the Supreme Court will rule the entire law to be unconstitutional, so Obama can focus on the parts of the law that will prove to be popular. Of course, he should have been doing that by now. Shame on him.

The second reason has to do with some polling trends that are now favoring Obama. Yes, his favorability numbers are still negative, but they are improving (see my previous analysis here). And in the more important head-to-head match-ups with the Republican candidates, Obama is leading all of them. Here's a link to the Rasmussen polling site, a favorite of the Republicans, that shows the latest numbers. Fox News also released new polls showing Obama ahead of both Romney and Perry.

There's even better news from a new Quinnipiac poll that shows Obama beating both Rick Perry and Mitt Romney in the battleground states of Ohio and Pennsylvania. To be honest, Obama won Pennsylvania by 10 points in 2008, and the fact that he'll need to defend it is not a great sign, but a win is a win and right now he's ahead.

Other polls suggest that the public trusts Obama more than Republicans when it comes to solving the deficit crisis. And the electoral math still favors Obama because American presidential elections always come down to the states. This article has a contradiction in its headline, Obama at Majority Disapproval; Re-election Likely, but the analysis reminds us that a few states will decide who wins in 2012.

Obama has shown more fire ever since his jobs speech earlier in September and more Democrats will come back to him as it becomes apparent that the only other choice is a Republican who would gut abortion, civil rights, and consumer protection laws (among other, more heinous proposals) and empower businesses to regulate themselves because the market will protect us.

This is a turning point week. Bank on it.


  1. Good analysis. For all his strengths and weaknesses, Obama is a natural when it comes to campaigning. Clearly something re-lit his pilot light - I believe it was the debt ceiling circus and Boehner's inability to do a deal with him - and Obama has shifted back into combat campaign mode. This is his election to win, but it will be more difficult than 2008. Looks like he has rediscovered his mojo.

  2. Thanks Chris. The summer was very bad for Obama, but now the choice is becoming clear. He'll solidify his base by next spring.