The president is understandably frustrated. After weeks of assaulting Mitt Romney's character, he has little to show for it. The Hill reports:
Mitt Romney holds thin advantages over President Obama on leadership, personal values and honesty, according to a new poll for The Hill.
The poll, conducted for The Hill by Pulse Opinion Research, suggests voters see little difference between the candidates on character issues that Democrats have cited as key to Obama’s appeal.
It found 48 percent of voters consider Romney the stronger leader, compared to 44 percent who favored Obama.
What is more, Romney leads (although not by a statistically significant margin) when it comes to “shares your values” and “honesty.”
It is one poll, but it does confirm findings in the CBS/New York Times poll, among others, that show the onslaught of negative ads has, if anything, hurt Obama.
At this point, one has to wonder if the endeavor to destroy Romney personally is flawed — that is, the voters don’t care about when Romney left Bain or if he releases two or 20 years of tax returns. Or more specifically, they don’t consider these details to be indicative of character.
Sure, if you ask them specifically if voters would like to see more tax returns, voters want to see how rich Romney is. But in terms of moving perceptions of Romney, the summer negative ad dump hasn’t helped Obama. It may just be that voters are sophisticated enough not to believe any of the presidential campaign ads.
You wonder, too, if Obama’s constant whining about being taken “out of context” and blaming President George W. Bush and/or Republicans for the rotten economic recovery may have rubbed voters the wrong way. For starters, you can only cry “out of context” so much, especially when ads showing the full context of the “you didn’t build that” ad are arguably worse for the president.
And it isn’t presidential, let alone grown-up, to blame your predecessor after three-plus years in the job. “Oh, woe is he!” wail the defenders of Obama. He inherited a rotten economy. He has to deal with Republicans in Congress. True, but Ronald Reagan’s inherited economy was arguably worse, with a “misery” index of about 20, and Reagan managed to work with House Speaker Tip O’Neill.
Could it be that playing the full context of Obama’s remarks (which he claims to be out of context) and the general debunking of the Bain attacks has convinced voters that Obama isn’t the honest one? Perhaps voters associate nonstop negativity and buck-passing as evidence of bad character. It’s as good an explanation as any.
But Republicans and Democrats should keep in mind that the economy remains the most important issue. (Another bit of bad news for Obama: a Gallup poll finds “taxing the rich” dead last in a list of voters’ concerns.)
We got a dose of bad economic news on Friday (not reflected at all in the Hill poll), and we may get more Friday when the job numbers come out. In short, maybe Obama has hit the ceiling, not the floor, on approval and support.