Economic Optimism Helps Obama

National Journal

The most striking statistic from Tuesday’s NBC/Wall Street Journal poll was that a growing number of Americans believe the country is on the right track. This, despite the monthly jobs reports showing minimal economic growth, with little signs of strength in the future.

Now, 39 percent believe the country is on the right track, with 55 percent still believing it’s on the wrong track.  That doesn’t sound good, but the “right track” number jumped six points since last month, before the Democratic National Convention. The growing sense of optimism jumps out from the poll – 42 percent now believe the economy will get better, a whopping 15 point jump from July and six point jump from the pre-convention poll.

It’s this surprising sense of economic optimism that’s driving Obama’s poll numbers upwards as much as Romney’s own recent series of stumbles. Obama has now closed the gap he held over which candidate would do a better job on the economy (voters narrowly prefer Romney 51 to 47 percent). 

What accounts for the increased economic self-confidence?  There’s a good chance Bill Clinton’s effective convention speech, touting the president’s policies to stabilize the economy, played a seminal role.  Even the rough August jobs report wasn’t enough to dent Obama’s rise. In addition, Romney’s campaign focused on a lot of economic side issues over the last month – welfare, Medicare, redistribution – that pushed them away from the central indictment of Obama’s economic record.

As underscored by Fleetwood Mac, Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign theme was “don’t stop thinking about tomorrow” – an optimistic message for a challenger running against an incumbent with a vulnerable economic record. Obama, despite being that incumbent running in a weak economy, has cleverly adopted it as his own. And voters appear to be buying it. Read more

—Josh Kraushaar, Hotline executive editor


The Perils of Closed-Door Fundraising NEW!
[National Journal, 9/19/12] From then-Sen. Obama’s 2008 comments about small-town Americans clinging to guns and religion to Romney’s appraisal of the 47 percent, supposed gaffes made in seemingly private settings can change the outlook of a race. NJ’s Matt Vasilogambros writes that candidates are more likely to be caught off-guard at private fundraising events. 

Welcome to the Neighborhood, Mitt Romney
[National Journal, 9/19/12] About 27 percent of Washington residents did not pay federal income tax in 2010, 23 percent received Medicaid benefits in 2009-2010, and 10 percent received Medicare benefits. NJ’s Naureen Khan delves into the statistics.

Paul Ryan: Romney's '47 Percent' Remark 'Obviously Inarticulate' 
[The Hill, 9/19/12] Vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan called Romney’s appraisal of the 47 percent of Americans who don’t pay income taxes “obviously inarticulate.” Speaking on a local Nevada television station, he still defended Romney’s overall point.

Reid, Durbin on Romney Remarks 
[CNN, 9/19/12] Senate Democrats took to the floor on Wednesday to attack Romney on comments he made at a private fundraiser. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, R-Nev., said Romney “only wants to be president of half of the United States.

Romney Seeks to Shift Focus to Obama ‘Redistribution’ Comment’
[CBS News, 9/18/12] Romney pointed to comments Obama made in 1998 about his support for the “redistribution” of wealth in order to shift focus from a leaked video of controversial comments he made at a fundraiser earlier this year, and to illustrate the difference between the two campaigns.

Obama Silent as Opponents Flock to Chicago Teachers Strike
[Washington Examiner, 9/18/12] While Romney and his VP pick Paul Ryan have taken a clear stand on the issues surrounding the Chicago teachers strike – they have sided with Mayor Rahm Emanuel – Obama has remained ominously silent.

Polls: Obama Leads in Wis.; Closer in Colo., Va.
[National Journal, 9/19/12] New polls out early on Wednesday show Obama opening up a significant lead in Wisconsin, 51 percent to 45 percent, but the race for president is within the margin of error in two other critical battleground states: Colorado and Virginia.

Pa. Supreme Court Punts on Voter-ID Law
[Philadelphia Inquirer, 9/19/12] Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court told Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson that he must put the state’s strict new voter ID law on hold if he determines that it will keep voters from casting ballots.

Romney Op-Ed: I’ll Deliver Recovery, Not Dependency
[USA Today, 9/18/12] Romney writes in an op-ed that ran in Wednesday’s paper that government does have a role to play in creating a growing economy – but it is a very different kind of help than what Obama wants to provide: “My course for the American economy will encourage private investment and personal freedom. Instead of a web of dependency, I will pursue policies that grow our economy…”

Noonan: Time for an Intervention
[Wall Street Journal, 9/18/12] The Journal’s Peggy Noonan writes that after two big flubs, Romney needs to snap out of it. She condemns his response to the attacks in Libya last week, and the remarks he made in the infamous “47 percent” video, and offers some ideas for how he could pick himself back up. 

Romney’s Remarks are Another Chick-Fil-A Moment
[Redstate, 9/19/12] Erick Erickson writes that the media and the left have badly misread the American mood on Romney’s “47 percent” comments. A fair number of those people in the 47 percent are not there by choice – they are there by Obama’s economic policies, he argues.

Scott Brown Says he has Different World View than Romney
[Boston Globe, 9/18/12] Senator Scott Brown is distancing himself from the controversial 47 percent comments by fellow Massachusetts Republican Romney, saying that the idea that nearly half of Americans see themselves as victims is “not the way I view the world.”

GOP’s 2012 Game Plan Looks a Lot Like 2008
[Talking Points Memo, 9/19/12] From palling around with terrorists to spreading the wealth around and being a celebrity, many of the accusations the GOP is throwing at Obama sound familiar.

Romney Campaign Borrowed $20 Million
[National Review, 9/18/12] With its spending limited by campaign finance laws in the Republican presidential primary – as he was not officially the nominee, he could only spend primary donations -- the Romney campaign borrowed $20 million in the weeks leading up to the Republican convention.  

Insiders: Romney’s Attacks on Obama Over Defense Cuts Won’t Move Needle for Voters
[National Journal, 9/18/12] Seventy percent of NJ’s National Security Insiders say Romney’s attacks on Obama alleging his support of $1 trillion in cuts to the Pentagon’s budget will not have an impact on voters. 

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