The most striking statistic from Tuesday’s NBC/Wall Street Journal poll was that a growing number of Americans believe the country is on the right track. This, despite the monthly jobs reports showing minimal economic growth with few signs of strength in the future.
Now, 39 percent of those surveyed believe the country is on the right track, with 55 percent still believing it’s on the wrong track. That might not sound good, but the “right track” number rose 6 percentage points since last month, before the Democratic National Convention. The growing sense of optimism jumps out from the poll — 42 percent of the respondents now believe the economy will get better, a whopping 15-point increase from July and a 6-point one from the pre-convention poll.
It’s this surprising sense of economic optimism that’s driving President Obama’s poll numbers upward as much as Mitt Romney’s own recent series of stumbles. Obama is now closing the gap with the Republican nominee on the question of which candidate would do a better job on the economy (voters narrowly prefer Romney 51 to 47 percent).
What accounts for the increased economic confidence? There’s a good chance that former President Clinton’s effective convention speech touting Obama’s policies to stabilize the economy, played a seminal role. Even the rough August jobs report wasn’t enough to dent Obama’s rise in the polls. In addition, Romney’s campaign has focused on a lot of economic side issues over the last month — welfare, Medicare, redistribution — that pushed the message away from the central indictment of Obama’s economic record.
As underscored by Fleetwood Mac, Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign theme was “Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow” — an optimistic message for a challenger running against an incumbent with a vulnerable economic record. Obama, despite being that incumbent running in a weak economy, has cleverly adopted it as his own. And voters appear to be buying it.
NATIONAL JOURNAL’S PRESIDENTIAL RACE REPORT
Poll: Romney ’47 Percent’ Remarks Hurt Independent Support
[Politico, 9/19/12] Nearly 30 percent of independents said comments caught on video from a private fundraiser made them less likely to support Romney, according to a Gallup Poll. About half that number said the comments made them more likely tovote for Romney, while a majority of independents said the remarks did not sway their opinion either way.
Obama Has Edge over Romney in 3 Battleground States NEW!
[Fox News, 9/19/12] The latest Fox News poll has Obama up seven points among likely voters in both Virginia and Ohio, and up five points in Florida. The numbers are much tighter, though, among independents and those who describe themselves as “extremely interested” in the race.
Brown’s Office Reiterates Senator’s Support for Romney NEW!
[The Hill, 9/19/12] After Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., evaded a question about whether he continued to support Romney after the leaking of the presidential candidates “47 percent” comments, one of his aides has affirmed Brown’s continuing support for Romney.
Analysis: Maybe Romney is ‘Severely Conservative’ After All NEW!
[National Journal, 9/19/12] Michael Hirsh considers the possibility that the level of Romney’s conservatism has been misjudged all along, and that he really believes half of Americans are freeloaders.
Under Fire, Romney Vows ‘Reasonable Solution’ on Immigration
[CNN, 9/19/12] Ahead of an appearance at a Univision forum in Miami, Romney lags far behind Obama in Hispanic support. Romney’s position is complicated by the wide gulf between Hispanics and the Republican base on immigration reform.
Obama Leads in Two Wisconsin Polls, with Third on the Way
[NBC News, 9/19/12] A new Marquette University poll put Obama up 54-40 over Romney, and a CBS/New York Times/Quinnipiac poll shows him up 51-45. A Wall Street Journal/Marist College poll of Wisconsin voters will come out Thursday.
The Perils of Closed-Door Fundraising
[National Journal, 9/19/12] From then-Sen. Barack Obama’s 2008 comments about small-town Americans clinging to guns and religion to Romney’s appraisal of the 47 percent, supposed gaffes made in seemingly private settings can change the outlook of a race. NJ’s Matt Vasilogambros writes that candidates are more likely to be caught off-guard at private fundraising events.
Paul Ryan: Romney's '47 Percent' Remark 'Obviously Inarticulate'
[The Hill, 9/19/12] GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan called Romney’s appraisal of the 47 percent of Americans who don’t pay income taxes “obviously inarticulate.” Speaking on a local Nevada television station, he still defended Romney’s overall point.
Reid, Durbin on Romney Remarks
[CNN, 9/19/12] Senate Democrats took to the floor on Wednesday to attack Romney on comments he made at a private fundraiser. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, R-Nev., said Romney “only wants to be president of half of the United States.
Polls: Obama Leads in Wis.; Closer in Colo., Va.
[National Journal, 9/19/12] New polls out early on Wednesday show Obama opening up a significant lead in Wisconsin, 51 percent to 45 percent, but the race for president is within the margin of error in two other critical battleground states: Colorado and Virginia.
Pa. Supreme Court Punts on Voter-ID Law
[Philadelphia Inquirer, 9/19/12] Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court told Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson that he must put the state’s strict new voter ID law on hold if he determines that it will keep voters from casting ballots.
Noonan: Time for an Intervention
[Wall Street Journal, 9/18/12] The Journal’s Peggy Noonan writes that after two big flubs, Romney needs to snap out of it. She condemns his response to the attacks in Libya last week and the remarks he made in the infamous “47 percent” video, and she offers some ideas for how he could pick himself back up.
Romney’s Remarks Are Another Chick-Fil-A Moment
[Redstate, 9/19/12] Erick Erickson writes that the media and the Left have badly misread the American mood on Romney’s “47 percent” comments. A fair number of those people in the 47 percent are not there by choice — they are there by Obama’s economic policies, he argues.
GOP’s 2012 Game Plan Looks a Lot Like 2008
[Talking Points Memo, 9/19/12] From palling around with terrorists to spreading the wealth around and being a celebrity, many of the accusations the GOP is throwing at Obama sound familiar.