The ‘Clinton bounce,’ the sour economy and Romney’s challenge
Washington Examiner (September 15, 2012)
Depending on which poll you look at, President Obama received anywhere between a 3-point (according to Gallup) or 4-point (according to CNN) bump in his lead over Mitt Romney in the race for the White House following the Democratic National Convention.
A deeper look at the numbers shows that it was former President Clinton who gave Obama his bounce. According to Gallup, only 43 percent of adults thought Obama’s convention speech was “excellent.” The rest of America either thought it was “OK” (17 percent) or “terrible” (16 percent), or had no opinion (24 percent). Independents had even lower opinions of Obama, with just 35 percent rating the speech “excellent” and 39 percent saying it was “OK” or “terrible.”
Clinton’s speech was rated “excellent” by 56 percent of American adults. That is 13 points better than Obama’s performance. To the extent that Democrats got a bounce out of their convention, it was a Clinton bounce.
What about Clinton’s speech is driving voters into the Obama column? Just look at the “right track”/”wrong track” numbers from polls that have shown Obama taking the lead. Before Clinton’s speech, only 29 percent of respondents told Rasmussen Reports that the United States was headed in the right direction. Now 37 percent do. NBC News, ABC News and Reuters all picked up similar changes in how Americans feel about the direction of the country.
Which was exactly the theme of Clinton’s convention speech, in which he said, “No president — not me or any of my predecessors — could have repaired all the damage in just four years. But conditions are improving, and if you’ll renew the president’s contract, you will feel it.”
The thing is, Clinton is dead wrong. “Conditions” are not improving. The Commerce Department released data this week showing that median household income dropped again last year and has fallen to its lowest level since 1994. Last month, the same department released numbers showing that American incomes declined more during the Obama recovery than they did during the recession.
And according to the Labor Department, the number of jobs created by U.S. employers has not only fallen from just 153,000 a month last year to an anemic 139,000 a month this year, but has basically flatlined at just 96,000 new jobs last month. A different Labor Department survey also found that the number of Americans with jobs has actually declined the last two months by more than 300,000. And more than 500,000 Americans became so discouraged, they exited the workforce entirely.
Looking forward, the economy would get even worse if Obama were re-elected. Americans face nearly $500 billion in tax hikes, some signed into law by Obama and others set to take effect automatically this coming January. Along with $100 billion in spending cuts, this fiscal cliff is expected to send unemployment skyrocketing above 9 percent.
Is this really the path Americans want their country to go down? If Romney wants to win this November, not only must he remind Americans that we are suffering through a truly terrible economy, he must also explain exactly how he will defuse the short-term fiscal time bomb Obama has created.