Political analyst Charlie Cook writes in his most recent National Journal column that this election will be a referendum on the president’s handling of the economy – echoing what Speaker Boehner has been saying for months. Cook notes that:
“[T]his remains an election about the economy....Unemployment is not expected to improve between now and the election. No incumbent wants to see an unemployment rate at 8 percent or higher. Franklin D. Roosevelt was the last to survive it in the Oval Office....
“We are past the point where Obama can win a referendum election, regardless of whether it is on him or the economy. The success of his campaign is contingent upon two things. First, when focusing on the narrow sliver of undecided voters, between 6 and 8 percent of the electorate, the Obama team must make its candidate the lesser of two evils. It has to make the prospect of a Mitt Romney presidency so unpalatable that about half of those undecided voters will begrudgingly vote for reelection.
“Polling focusing on the undecided voters reveals they are a deeply pessimistic and angry segment of the electorate …[b]ut they show signs of being more conservative than not. One unpublished analysis gives Republicans a 10-point advantage on the generic congressional ballot test among those undecided about the presidential race. Close analysis of the numbers shows that Obama might have an edge with between a third and a quarter of the currently undecided bloc. That’s cutting things awfully close.”
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