Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Why Aren't Obama's Numbers Dropping?

There has been a lot of bad news for the President recently. The jobs numbers were very bad. The President compounded the problem with a bad gaffe. Karen Tumulty reports Democrats are starting to panic. Global opinion of Obama has started to slip. Carville and Greenberg are convinced Obama has the wrong message on the economy. Indeed, independent voters do not like what Obama is saying on the economy. Meanwhile, Eric Holder is under renewed fire and Obama's Secretary of the Commerce had a strange health episode over the weekend that led to several hit-and-run accidents.

It's been a rough patch ... and yet,

What's going on here? Some possibilities:

1) Maybe the bad news for Obama is just not yet reflected in these polls. Perhaps, but there are several polls out in the past couple of days that do take most all of these stories into account. If this is the best explanation, we should see Obama's numbers decline in the next few days at the latest.

2) People dislike Romney too much to turn to him. Possible, but that would at least cause Obama's numbers to drop a little more than they have with some voters moving into the undecided category.

3) What I think is going on here is that there are just fewer voters than usual that are "persuadable." There just aren't very many people who have not already made up their minds about the November election. Most voters have very clear, fixed views of the Democratic and Republican brands, Obama personally, his leadership, etc. If there is one area where at least some voters are still movable, it is focused on Mitt Romney. Some voters (a small number) do not yet know enough about him to render a final verdict.

Because of that last point, the campaigns are now going to spend literally hundreds of millions of dollars defining who Mitt Romney is, what his policy proposals mean, and what a Romney presidency would look like. Sure, Romney will spend a lot of money explaining how Obama has done a very bad job. Most of this spending is a waste. The vast majority of voters have already come to their own conclusions on that and the few that might change their minds will change their minds based on events (the economy, etc.). They will not be moved by Romney's ads.

UPDATE: Nate Cohn makes virtually the same point.

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