The long thread of bad economic reports, unemployment growth, and ineffective government spending is undermining President Obama's efforts to build a path to re-election, according to political analysts.
"If the economy doesn't pick up soon, Obama's once-bright prospects for re-election could be history, along with his White House tenure—assuming, of course, Republicans nominate a mainstream candidate that can appeal to swing voters and appears to be a credible possible occupant of the Oval Office," said the University of Virginia's Larry Sabato. Said a former Reagan aide, "when it rains, it pours. It is tremendously hard to get your positives up when they have been pounded into the toilet. And it takes a very long time, something he doesn't have."
Sabato said that the economy more than the nation's debt crisis will drive voters, and there is no easy answer for the president on that. Maybe worse for the president, those who might vote on the debt deal he agreed to will be angry liberals eager to punish him. He noted that some liberals, like Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders are eager to see a primary challenge, which most Democrats say won't happen. [Check out editorial cartoons about the 2012 GOP contenders.]
"If a challenge to President Obama arises at all, we would expect it to be minor. But it is difficult to say precisely how angry liberals are at what they regard as a 'cave-in' to the Republicans on the debt deal—after a similar Republican-leaning agreement on the Bush tax cuts last December. On the one hand, the left might fear inadvertently helping the rising Tea Party, and once again give Obama the benefit of the doubt. On the other hand, Sanders' view might prevail, reminding Obama that the left has somewhere else to go, at least for the nomination contest," Sabato wrote in his weekly column.
Republicans, meanwhile, are cheering comments from former White House economic adviser Larry Summers that the president's current jobs policy won't create enough growth to lower the unemployment rate to the levels to help the president's reelection. "It's really getting to be a tough road for him. Of course we need somebody good to run and it's looking much better for Mitt Romney," said the former Reagan aide on background.