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Racing for the presidency

With 90 days left before the 2012 presidential election, now may be a good time to look at both candidates and their respective chances to win the White House.

President Obama has a decided advantage by occupying the White House. It places a sitting president in the national news daily, and often twice; once for his actions and responses as president, and then again for his campaign activities.

But the president also has liabilities as president. Presidents are blamed for things they do not control rather it is an oil spill, gasoline prices or new car sales.

This president has led the nation during the most difficult economic period since the Great Depression, and historically poor economic performance undermines re-election attempts.

But polling over the last several months has been incredibly consistent for the president regardless of the timid economic growth. His approval has hovered around 48 percent and his disapproval around 43 percent.

While his negatives have risen modestly, likely connected to negative campaigning, his support has remained constant. For any confidence in re-election a president would like to reach a 50 percent approval rating, something Obama has not been able to accomplish.

Strategically, the Obama campaign has pretty much locked in a majority of Hispanic votes, African-American votes, youth votes, female voters, gay and lesbian voters and college graduates. But the campaign is not faring well winning the votes of business owners, blue collar white voters, evangelicals and southern voters in general.

It appears the Obama campaign is focused upon Electoral College math, where the path to the presidency is easier for the president than for his challenger.

Obama needs only to win one of four crucial states, Ohio, Virginia, Florida or North Carolina to win re-election. He currently leads in three of the four.

The Romney campaign has, with only 90 days remaining, not been able to generate a lead in most of the toss-up states, those that will decide the election.

While the campaign is not in a panic mode, it is certainly aware that it needs to gain margin with voters on the three key events remaining before the election; the selection of Romney’s VP candidate; the convention speech and hoped-for approval jump; and success in the presidential debates.

If each of those events raises his public support in this still too-close-to call race, then his chances of winning the election are significantly improved. But should any of these major events not work as planned, and then his hopes will be dimmed significantly.

Romney may benefit in the final 90 days by out-raising the president in funding, both directly to his campaign and indirectly to the super pacs supporting his candidacy.

There is no doubt the media will be flooded with attack messages from all sides beginning Labor Day, and Romney and his supporters may have more to spend at this crucial point in the campaign.

One disturbing problem for the Romney campaign has been his rising negatives, negatives that have reached 50 percent, the highest for any Presidential candidate since 1984.

But Romney’s challenges are moving voters who his party has, to varying degrees, offended.

He has not been helped by some voices within his party on the immigration issue, a particular concern to Hispanic voters; too many of his fellow Republicans have hurt his ability to gain traction with women voters; and the very rough Republican primaries have hurt the Party with independent voters.

It is certainly impossible to predict the outcome of this election today, but, based upon current positions and strategies, advantage Obama, opportunity Romney.

 

Jim Crawford is a retired educator and political enthusiast living here in the Tri-State.