The Washington Post

Obama’s reelection challenge, in a nutshell

Republicans today are circulating this new CBS News poll, which contains terrible numbers for Obama on the economy:

Do you approve or disapprove of the way Barack obama is handling the economy?

Approve 33

Disapprove 60

And even worse:

Since he took office, has Barack Obama made real progress in fixing the economy or hasn’t he made real progress in fixing the economy?

Made real progress 28

Hasn’t made real progress 68

But get this: These numbers come even as far more blame Republicans in Congress than Barack Obama and Democrats for the failure to pass legislation, 42-26. And more blame Bush (22 percent) and Congress (16 percent) than Obama (only 12 percent) for the current state of the economy. Fifty seven percent say Obama has worked hard to bring about change, and didn’t just talk about it.

Yet despite all this, Obama remains stuck at a dismal 33 percent economic approval rating. This again illustrates what may be the most important dynamic driving the 2012 campaign: Obama will pay the highest price for the state of the economy, even if the American public fully believes the GOP is deliberately blocking his policies and is more to blame for government paralysis in the face of the crisis. They may see Obama as well intentioned, and agree with his general prescriptions, but ultimately decide he’s too weak or ineffective to just, you know, get it done.

Barring an economic turnaround, Obama can only hammer Republicans relentlessly as deliberate opponents of economic progress, run a scorched earth campaign to render the GOP nominee unacceptable, and relentlessly contrast the parties’ larger visions, in hopes of making the election about something more than the current state of the economy. Whether all this can overcome the basic dynamic Obama’s mired in remains to be seen.

Greg Sargent writes The Plum Line blog, a reported opinion blog with a liberal slant -- what you might call “opinionated reporting” from the left.


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