The Republican presidential candidate has been sinking in the polls and trails Obama by close to 10 points, 52% to 43%, in the most recent Washington Post/ABC News poll. Romney is losing to the president on most comparative attributes, and has lost whatever advantage he previously had on the economy.
Moreover, Obama has a double-digit lead – 52% to 37% – on understanding the economic problems people face. Independents are turning back to the president, as 47% now approve of the way he is handling his job, up from 34% last fall, and Obama’s approval rating among all voters as climbed to 50%.
What then, is keeping the president up at night?
Put simply, it is the Super PACs, particularly the group of secretive millionaires who met last week at the Renaissance Esmeralda in Indian Wells, California, and pledged $100 million in Super PAC contributions to defeat Obama.
It isn’t clear where or how this money is going to be spent. It could go to Karl Rove’s American Crossroads or it could go to the Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity.
But make no mistake. These activities, rather than the Romney campaign, make up the greatest threat to the Obama presidency itself.
There are a number of reasons for this. First, the Romney campaign will probably spend the next six months fighting Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and Ron Paul to secure a nomination that most likely will be his but at this point has not been locked down. And with caucuses today in Colorado and Minnesota and a non-binding primary today in Missouri, it is possible that the former Massachusetts governor could lose two of three, if not three of three.
Moreover, the likely Republican standard bearer has had virtually no success in developing an alternative vision or argument to beat Obama. The coming together of the millionaires and billionaires in California is a tacit acknowledgment that they believe that Romney’s efforts alone to beat Obama could well fall short, hence the commitment of at least $100 million to an anti-Obama campaign.