The first round of polls is out after President Obama’s Bain attacks against Mitt Romney and the results aren’t good news for the White House. By themselves, the national toplines are discouraging enough: Romney holds a (statistically-insignificant) 47 to 46 percent lead in the new New York Times/CBS poll, and the president is stuck at 47 percent in recent polls by Fox News and NPR.
But beneath the head-to-head numbers, the results foreshadow tough times ahead for Obama. Voters appear to be processing the worsening economic news belatedly, and their pessimism shows. In the CBS/NYT poll, Obama’s job approval dropped to 44 percent, with only 39 percent approving of his economic performance -- down five points from April. For the first time since January, more voters now think the economy is getting worse. Nearly two-thirds of voters now place some blame on the president for the weak economic conditions, with 34 percent giving him “significant” responsibility, and an outright 52 percent majority of independents believe Obama will “never improve” the economy.
These aren’t numbers that victories are made of.
Obama’s favorability ratings -- always his relative strong suit -- are also at an all-time low. Only 36 percent in the NYT/CBS poll view him favorably, a six-point drop over the last three months, with 48 percent viewing him unfavorably. Romney’s numbers aren’t good, either -- 32 percent favorable and 36 percent unfavorable -- but mutually assured destruction isn’t going to win the election.
All told, the numbers paint a picture of voters growing increasingly disillusioned with the president. By going negative against Romney, the president is landing some solid blows. But without a positive governing agenda to campaign on, that may not be enough.
—Josh Kraushaar, Hotline executive editor
NATIONAL JOURNAL’S PRESIDENTIAL RACE REPORT
If Obama Wins in Brutal Campaign, What Then?
[National Journal, 7/19/12] Can voters tolerate the lurch from preaching hope and change to mocking Romney’s off-key rendition of “America the Beautiful” and hurling contestable allegations that he oversaw the outsourcing of jobs to foreign countries? And even if they do, does Obama’s team see a governing path for a reelected president who has so toxically attacked his rival?
What's Keeping Romney From Sharing His Taxpaying History?
[National Journal, 7/19/12] Romney has refused to release more than two years of tax returns, prompting much speculation about what he could be hiding. National Journal's Nancy Cook offers three explanations for why the campaign might be keeping the forms under lock and key.
Olympics Documents, Intro Described Romney as Bain CEO
[BuzzFeed, 7/19/12] In February 2000, Romney was introduced as the “founder and CEO of Bain Capital” at the National Press Club during an appearance connected to the Olympics, and Romney's biography on the Olympics’ website in 2001 listed him as Bain Capital “founder and CEO.”
Romney’s Obama Attacks Get Sidetracked
[National Journal, 7/19/12] After days of attacking Obama for his comments touting government’s role in fostering new businesses, Romney’s message got muddled on Thursday when a local entrepreneur who spoke with the candidate at a campaign event acknowledged that his business received some government help.
Insiders: Bain Attacks Effective
[National Journal, 7/19/12] A bipartisan swath of election experts now believe Obama's criticism of Romney's Bain Capital tenure has been effective, according to the latest National Journal Political Insiders Poll, a shift in opinion since May when a chunk of insiders doubted the tact would work. Meanwhile, insiders gives Romney's campaign so-so marks.
Tim Pawlenty, Defender in Chief of the Romney Family?
[National Journal, 7/19/12] The former Minnesota governor, widely viewed as a finalist in the GOP veepstakes, had some choice words for the Democratic National Committee after recent videos mocking Ann Romney’s beloved dressage horse: “Shame on them, really,” he said.
Boehner Blasts Obama, Weighs in on Veepstakes
[CNN, 7/19/12] House Speaker John Boehner stood by his argument that Obama doesn't give a "damn" about unemployed, middle class Americans, saying on Thursday in an exclusive interview with CNN that Obama has been more focused on his role as candidate than as president. He also dismissed controversy over Romney’s tax returns as a “sideshow.”
Does Presidency Rest on Virginia Asian-American Vote?
[National Journal, 7/19/12] A full 25 percent of Asian-American voters in Virginia, a prime battleground state where Romney and Obama are in a dead heat, say they are still undecided. This population is considered to be one of the fastest-growing ethnic groups in the country, but is virtually untapped by the candidates.
Bain Capital Started With Help of Offshore Investors
[Los Angeles Times, 7/19/12] When Romney tried to get Bain off the ground, it struggled to find domestic investors, and turned to foreign money, raising more than a third via corporations registered in Panama, which was then known for tax advantages and unusual banking secrecy.
Morgan Freeman Gives $1 Million to Obama Super PAC
[Huffington Post, 7/19/12] Morgan Freeman cut a seven-figure check to the pro-Obama super PAC Priorities USA Action, helping boost the group to a total haul of $6 million in June.
New Polls Show Close Race But Differing Views on Candidates
[National Journal, 7/19/12] Three new national polls were released late on Wednesday, and while they all show Obama and Romney locked in a tight race, they also differ on the way in which voters perceive the candidates.
The Urgency of Fixing Campaign Finance Laws
[National Journal, 7/19/12] Campaign finance law is yet another debate in which the two parties are miles apart. But there’s surprising bipartisan agreement on coordination, Hotline's Reid Wilson writes. The drivers of the debate on Capitol Hill believe coordination between campaigns and super PACs shouldn't be allowed, but that coordination with party committees only makes sense.
Obama Criticizes Romney, GOP on Medicare in Florida
[Associated Press, 7/19/12] The president on Thursday said while campaigning in the Sunshine State that Romney and the Republicans are set to make seniors pay thousands more for Medicare so the rich can get still more tax cuts.
Did Bain Add Value to the Economy?
[National Journal, 7/19/12] A 2008 research paper raises questions about whether private equity hurts the economy, revealing the answer may not be as cut and dry as the Romney campaign might hope, National Journal's Michael Hirsh writes.
Democrats Hit Mitt With a Tax Bill
[The Hill, 7/18/12] Congressional Democrats took aim at Romney on Wednesday by calling for legislation to require presidential candidates to disclose a decade of their tax returns and the value and location of accounts in tax-haven countries.
Obama Campaign Uses First Lady to Grow Grassroots
[Wall Street Journal, 7/19/12] The Obama campaign announced on Wednesday that Michelle Obama is leading a nationwide grassroots network to gather support for the president. She will launch the new effort, called “It Takes One,” at a campaign event on Friday in Virginia.