N2K Presidential Race: The Dogged Data of August

National Journal

Ebullient Democrats in Charlotte last week felt stalked by Friday morning’s job report, even before it revealed disappointingly five-digit growth and people piling out of the work force faster than the Time-Warner Cable Arena.

Another set of government data released early Monday morning buoyed spirits, when President Obama’s fundraising operation beat Mitt Romney’s last month for the first time since Romney effectively wrapped up the nomination. Campaign finance reports certainly don’t move poll numbers like unemployment reports, but at this point Democrats will take momentum-sustaining data points where they can get them.

The Obama administration – and, by extension, campaign – is haunted by government reports, which put at least a bit of a lie to claims that Americans are better off than they were four years ago. Its counter-argument is that the president is playing a long game, one whose score is not accurately quantified in monthly chunks.

In a down economy, the metrics always play better for the challenger. For Democrats, the best news from the second report – swelling the president’s campaign kitty – is that it can help bankroll the mitigation of the first.

-- Jim O’Sullivan
@JOSullivanNatJo

NATIONAL JOURNAL
’S PRESIDENTIAL RACE REPORT

Gallup: Obama Sustains Convention Bounce NEW!
[National Journal, 9/10/12] Obama's post-convention polling bump endured over the weekend, even after the latest unemployment surveys showed only sluggish job growth. Fully half of Americans surveyed Friday through Sunday approve of the job Obama is doing as president, and 44 percent of Americans disapprove. 

Obama Outraises Romney in August
[National Journal, 9/10/12] For the first time since April, the Obama campaign and the DNC raised more than Romney and his supporting Republican committees. Team Obama pulled in more than $114 million the month of August, while Team Romney raised $111.6 million.

Obama Campaign Video Says GOP Ticket Won’t Answer Basic Questions on Tax Plan
[National Journal, 9/10/12] After the campaigns clashed on Sunday over what Democrats are calling Romney’s refusal to identify which tax loopholes he would close and what cuts he would make as part of his tax plan, the Obama campaign released a two-minute video highlighting Romney-Ryan’s “bad math” on Sunday night.

Opinion: Why Romney Should Back Rahm on Teachers Strike 
[National Journal, 9/10/12] National Journal’s Matt Cooper writes that by backing Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel in his city’s teachers strike, Romney would underscore his point that public sector unions are demanding if not destructive, show his bipartisan credentials, and throw Rahm and Obama for a loop. 

Romney Shifts Toward Center on Health Reform
[Associated Press, 9/9/12] Romney said in an interview that aired Sunday that he would retain some popular parts of Obama’s health care law he has pledged to repeal, in an illustration of how the candidate is tacking back toward the center. But a spokesperson for the candidate backtracked later, telling National Review that Romney would replace Obamacare with his own plan and that his position has not changed on health care.

Koch Pens Op-Ed Criticizing Obama  
[Wall Street Journal, 9/10/12] Charles Koch, the CEO of Koch industries and a major Republican political donor, wrote an op-ed criticizing Obama over his “built it” comment. Koch argues that it wasn't corporate greed that caused U.S. financial problems, but government policy.

Obama: 'Mistake' to Dress Down Paul Ryan to His Face in Budget Speech
[ABC News, 9/10/12] In his new book, the Washington Post’s Bob Woodward talks to President Obama about last year’s debt deal that went array. Obama says it was a “mistake” to dress down Paul Ryan to his face, which only hindered negotiations.

Why Experts Say Obama’s In For A Rough Four Years — Even If He Wins Big NEW!
[TPM, 9/10/12] If President Obama gets a second term, don’t expect the partisan bickering that has plagued Washington lately to let up. Republicans are planning to block any initiatives to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans and pass financial reform laws.

This is Shaping Up to be the Most Racially Polarized US Election Ever
[The Guardian, 9/9/12] The British newspaper finds that although the Republican Party touted its diversity and willingness to reach out to voters of many races, the demographic reality and actions by some party members tell a different story.

DNC, Obama Framed Clear Choice in November
[New Yorker, 9/17/12] Steve Coll writes that Democrats “embraced the production values that the Republicans once monopolized: message discipline, clock management, and ego subordination (former Presidents excepted).”

GOP Ticket Misleads on Defense Cuts
[National Journal, 9/10/12] The issue of Obama’s pending “trillion dollar cuts” to the military has become central to the GOP argument, particularly in its attempt to persuade voters in defense-heavy battleground states that their jobs would be safer under Romney-Ryan. But there are some holes in the GOP’s case.

Crowds and Post-DNC Poll Numbers Buoy Obama in Florida
[Miami Herald, 9/10/12] As Obama journeys to Florida for a two-day swing, he faces excited crowds after the Democrat Party’s convention last week boosted his poll numbers. But the good feeling won’t last – expect the rhetoric to get sharper in the Sunshine State, specifically regarding Medicare and the economy.

Opinion: The Ryan Sinkhole
[New York Times, 9/9/12] The Times’ Thomas Edsall writes that the Ryan budget contains an $897 billion sinkhole: massive but unexplained cuts in such discretionary domestic programs as education, food and drug inspection, environmental protection, and law enforcement.

Obama Motorcade Cop Struck, Killed by Truck in Florida
[NBC News, 9/10/12] Officer Bruce St. Laurent, a motorcycle police officer who was one of several cops from agencies across Palm Beach County helping with security for the president’s visit, died on Sunday after being struck by a pickup truck on Interstate 95.

Romney Struggles to Gain Traction in Battlegrounds
[Wall Street Journal, 9/9/12] Obama is leading Romney by small margins in seven of the eight battleground states, all but North Carolina, and new surveys suggest Obama’s ratings in these swing states was boosted by his party’s convention. Although the pattern is by no means set, Romney has little time to alter a race that for months has been essentially static.  

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