Republicans, Democrats Try to Frame the 2012 Race

Who's on first depends on who is doing the counting.

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President Obama's support is fading in key areas that he needs to win re-election next year, according to a new analysis from the Republican National Committee. "Turns out Obama isn't very popular in battleground states," says a spokeswoman for the RNC.

[Vote now: Will Obama be a one-term president?]

A Republican compilation of public polls shows more people disapproving of Obama's job performance than approving it in seven key states. In Ohio, his disapproval is 52 per cent and his approval is 44 per cent. In Florida, it's 50 per cent disapproval and 41 per cent approval. In Nevada, it's 50 per cent disapproval, 47 per cent approval; in Colorado, 50 per cent to 46 per cent; Iowa, 48-45; Wisconsin, 51-45, and North Carolina, 53-43.

In some cases, these numbers aren't really all that bad for Obama, such as in Nevada, Colorado and Iowa. But it's a negative spin on Obama that the GOP has decided to promote as much as possible.

On the other side, Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz told reporters, "There are a lot of pundits out there looking for predictions about results in 2012. If you're looking for a prediction like that, you should really be looking at the president's standing against the Republican candidates in the battleground states."

On that score, Obama's prospects look better because he is leading or in close races with each of the two GOP front runners, Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. And he is generally ahead of the other GOP candidates.

[Who's in and out of the GOP 2012 race?]

Which approach is more valid? Neither. Looking solely at job performance in the states doesn't make much sense because that approach fails to account for the strength or weakness of Obama's eventual opponent. But looking solely at potential matchups with the likes of Perry or Romney doesn't make much sense either because no one knows if either will win the nomination and most voters haven't focused on learning about them yet.

What's going on here? Both parties are framing the presidential race for their own purposes. The Republicans want to make the race a referendum on Obama and his unpopular policies. The Democrats want to frame the race as a choice between Obama and a GOP nominee that they believe will be deeply flawed.

Conclusion: Voters need to beware of all the self-serving spin that emanates from the political pros day in and day out, often intensified by the media. Sorting it out will be a major objective of this blog throughout campaign season.

  • See a collection of political cartoons on President Obama.
  • See photos of the Obamas behind the scenes.
  • See photos of Republicans on the campaign trail.