Obama might have hit his own ceiling. Obama was neck and neck with John McCain heading into the Lehman collapse in September 2008. Not only did the incumbent Republican Party get blamed for the economic collapse, but Obama seemed confident while McCain looked rattled. Without the collapse, Obama might have still won, but not by a near landslide of more than 7 percentage points. Let’s recall what The Weekly Standard’s Jay Cost told me recently:
The only POTUS ever to get reelected with growth as weak as the WSJ forecast is estimating was Eisenhower in 1956. Incumbent parties lost in 1948, 1960, 1968, 1976, 1992, and 2000 when the economy was as weak or stronger. And 1980 is the only postwar election where the economy was actually weaker than what the WSJ is projecting it to be, at least measuring by GDP (using real disposable income per capita, 2012 is shaping up to be the weakest).
My feeling at this point is that he has consolidated the Democratic vote, which over the last 25 years has had a pretty rock solid floor of 46 percent. But if you look at the RCP average and especially the Gallup poll, he isn’t doing much more than that. And this is after (a) ending the Iraq War, (b) getting some drops in the unemployment rate, (c) quiet-time vis-a-vis battles with congressional Republicans, (d) a bloody internecene GOP contest that’s damaged his likely opponent.
Color me unimpressed. And I think this summer when gas prices are up to $4, the GOP has a nominee who starts hammering him on unemployment, wages, taxes, deficits, health care, he’ll be in trouble.
Sounds about right.