By Charlie Cook
Regular readers of this column know that in analyzing the 2012 presidential race, I have been preoccupied—some would say obsessed—with the state and direction of the U.S. economy. Presidential elections have many moving parts and can turn on many things, but rarely is a single factor more important than the economy when an incumbent is up for reelection.
The latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, conducted among 1,000 adults from April 13-17, supports that view. Overall, 49 percent said they approve of the job that President Obama is doing, and 46 percent said they disapprove. The poll, conducted by Democrat Peter Hart and Republican Bill McInturff, pegs Obama’s approval rating just 1 point higher than the current averages by RealClearPolitics and Huffpost’s Pollster.com, as well as the Gallup tracking average, for the week of April 16-22. Not much disparity there.
Obama’s lead in the horse race with Mitt Romney was 6 points in the NBC/WSJ poll, 49 percent to 43 percent. His advantage was a little less in some of the other surveys. RealClearPolitics pegged Obama’s lead at 3.7 points; Pollster reported 2.7 points. For April 18-23, the Gallup tracking poll had the president up by 7 points, 49 percent to 42 percent.
If you focus on the economy, though, the situation looks more complicated. Obama’s NBC/WSJ job rating on handling the economy is 45 percent approval and 57 percent disapproval. Those numbers are less favorable than his overall approval rating. When respondents were asked whether they thought Obama’s policies had helped or hurt economic conditions, or had made no difference at all, 36 percent said they had helped, 30 percent said they made no difference, and 33 percent said they had hurt. Obviously, you can push the “made no difference” group in either direction. But the 63 percent who said that Obama’s policies either made no difference or hurt economic conditions do not bode well for the president. When asked whether they thought the economy would get better, get worse, or stay about the same over the next 12 months, 38 percent said that it would get better, 42 percent said it would stay the same, and 19 percent predicted that things would get worse. With 61 percent believing that the economic picture will either get worse or stay the same, the public clearly remains very nervous about the economy—again, not good news for the president.
Read the rest at The Cook Report