If you listened to the growing "predictions of doom by Republican insiders," or the "crowing" of Democrats, you'd think President Obama were a shoo-in for re-election, says David A. Graham at The Atlantic. But both sides "should probably take a step back and calm down." Things are looking good for Obama now, with the unemployment rate falling, his poll numbers rising, and Republican infighting wounding his eventual opponent. "But the fundamental reasons why he is vulnerable haven't changed much from three, four, or five months ago, when Wall Street Journal columnists were confidently predicting he was headed for a one-term presidency." Here, six reasons Obama should still be nervous about November:
1. The head-to-head polls don't bode particularly well
In a GOP primary season in which "Republicans have been destroying each other and embarrassing themselves," while Obama piles on, the president should be crushing his potential challengers in the polls, says Robert Samuelson in The Washington Post. Well, he's not. Obama leads Mitt Romney by just a few percentage points nationally. Plus, says The Atlantic's Graham, that slight advantage tells us little about where things will stand in November. A lot will happen between now and then.
2. Republican are more excited than Democrats
A new USA Today/Gallup poll finds that 53 percent of Republicans say they're "more enthusiastic than usual about voting" for president, versus 45 percent of Democrats. So contrary to the conventional wisdom, "the primary has not eroded Republican enthusiasm," says Ed Morrissey at Hot Air. They "may not be terribly satisfied with the choices presented in this cycle, but as the general election comes closer, Republicans appear to be gaining enthusiasm for beating Obama."
3. The economy is still lousy
The economy does seem to be improving, but it may be too little, too late to help Obama, says Toby Harnden in Britain's Daily Mail. Consider President George H.W. Bush's failed re-election bid in 1992 — the last time an incumbent was tossed out after one term. "The problem was that although Bush had declared the recession was over, most Americans felt it wasn't." And with gas prices soaring and unemployment still above 8 percent, today's Americans probably aren't feeling much relief, either.
4. And the economy is even worse for Obama's base
"Obama won in 2008 thanks to almost unprecedented voter enthusiasm, particularly among two key constituencies: Young voters and black voters," says Jonah Goldberg at Townhall. Unfortunately for him, the Great Recession has been "disproportionately brutal" for younger workers, and "much worse" for blacks. Obama's poll numbers reflect that, but the polls don't really matter — turnout on election day does. "If young people don't turn out in lopsided numbers, or if Obama once again receives 95 percent of the black vote but the black share of the overall vote goes down, Obama's in grave trouble."
5. A scandal may be looming on the horizon
"The Obama administration is overdue for a major scandal," says The Atlantic's Graham. "Despite the best efforts of congressional Republicans, neither Fast and Furious nor Solyndra seems to have had a major impact on public opinion," but anything could emerge in the next eight months. Or the next few weeks, says Alex Alvarez at Mediaite. Conservative filmmaker Steve Bannon told Fox News' Sean Hannity on Thursday that within "a week or two," we'll see the mysterious tapes from Obama's time at Harvard that Andrew Breitbart promised conservatives before he died. Those tapes will "change this election," Hannity predicted.
6. Another Mideast war could doom Obama
"I don't think you can understand the Republican strategy for this election without factoring in a key GOP player, Benjamin Netanyahu," says Andrew Sullivan at The Daily Beast. The Israeli prime minister is reportedly prepared to bomb Iran's nuclear facilities without warning the Obama administration. That would either suck the U.S. into a catastrophic war against another Muslim nation — or leave Israel to go it alone, in which case Obama would incur the wrath of "much of the U.S. Congress, the entire GOP, its media outlets... and a key part of the Democratic fundraising machinery." This is exactly the kind of conflict "the GOP needs to cut through Obama's foreign policy advantage in this election," and that makes Netanyahu potentially "more lethal to this president than any of his domestic foes."
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