Today’s jobs report that the unemployment rate has fallen from 8.5% to 8.3% while total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 243,000 in January is just one of many reasons why there is an increasing air of optimism in the White House.
Indeed, recent polling suggests that President Obama’s position is strengthening, and his re-election campaign is gaining momentum.
As the president’s overall approval rating continues to rise from the low-to-mid forties to the mid-to-high forties, a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll shows him now leading GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney by six points (49%-43%). Meanwhile, 55% of respondents in a new Washington Post-Pew survey rated the president ahead of both Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich, in understanding the problems of ordinary Americans.
Second, the increasingly divisive nature of the GOP primary campaign has hurt the former governor’s standing with both independent and swing voters, while Obama’s position is strengthening in swing states. A new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows that independent voters now have an unfavorable impression of the former governor by a margin of more than 2 to 1. In contrast, 51 percent of independents have a favorable impression of the president, compared with 45 percent who have an unfavorable view — his highest rating since April.
A new poll from Public Policy Polling (D) shows a 56 percent majority of Ohio general election voters now view Romney unfavorably, and he trails by seven points a match-up with Obama (42%-49%). Similarly, the latest NBC News/Marist poll shows Obama leading the former Governor by eight points (49%-41%) among registered Florida voters.
But there are even more substantial reasons why the White House should be optimistic.
To be sure, Mr. Romney’s comments during a post-Florida CNN interview that he’s not concerned about the plight of the country’s very poor only further underscore the difficulty he will have not only in assembling broad support within the GOP base, but with the overall electorate.
And finally, with Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum showing no signs of standing down – we are all but guaranteed that the GOP will be in a fratricidal contest for at least the next 2-4 months.
The increasingly bitter tone of the GOP primaries will undoubtedly hurt whoever wins the nomination in the general election will undoubtedly hurt Mr. Romney’s standing long after he receives the nomination.
Certainly, Rick Santorum’s efforts to portray Romney as a heartless capitalist who enjoys firing people and only cares about the wealthy – criticizing Mr. Romney during a speech in Reno, Nev. Yesterday for not caring about America’s poor – not to mention Newt Gingrich’s continued attacks on Romney’s legacy as a “Massachusetts Moderate” and his record at Bain Capital will only make it more difficult for Romney to consolidate his support among the overall electorate.
Meanwhile, Obama has demonstrated a newfound energy over the past couple of weeks – pledging during an ABC interview to ”fight with every fiber of my being” for a second term. He underscored a series of politically popular themes during the State of the Union — including fairness, standing up for the middle class, bringing jobs back to America, standing up to China. And he has continued to promote politically popular proposals on the campaign trail – most recently at an event in Arlington, Virginia earlier today — introducing a plan to put veterans back to work and pressuring Congress to extend the payroll tax cut for more than 160 million Americans and keep the economy improving, warning lawmakers, “Don’t muck it up!”
With Obama’s re-election campaign gaining momentum, and with Mitt Romney facing three Caucuses and three opponents over the next month, there is every reason to believe why the high-fiving in the White House will only continue.