At Commentary, Jonathan S. Tobin wonders if either candidate in 2012 can land a knock-out punch:
The reasons for this stalemate are complex, but it boils down to a situation where both the president and Romney have strengths and weaknesses that seem to balance each other out. As Sean Trende noted last week at RealClearPolitics.com, the remarkable consistency of poll results that tend to show Obama with a slight lead among registered voters and a tie when it is narrowed down to likely voters is based on the fact that neither side seems able to deliver a knockout punch. The president is not popular and his main accomplishments are viewed negatively. But Romney is also not terribly well-liked. Even more important in Trende’s view is that while the economy is in bad shape, it is not that much worse than it was 2000 and 2004. Which means that no matter how much mud the Democrats sling at Romney or how hard the GOP hits the president on unpopular policies like ObamaCare, we are probably doomed to an election that will be as close as those two squeakers.
I’m not sure I agree with Tobin’s observation about the economy not being “that much worse” than 2000 or 2004. In 2000, the last year of the Clinton administration, despite a mild recession, unemployment averaged 4.00 percent. In 2004, during President Bush’s reelection year, despite the devastating 9/11 attack, unemployment was still at a very low 5.5 percent, which Obama, then running for senator, sniffed, “We believe that we can do better.”
Hey, Duffman believes a lot of things!
Today, unemployment is at 8.2 percent, and as Jim Pethokoukis writes at the American Enterprise Institute, “JPMorgan just gave a calamitous economic forecast for Obama:”
Basically, this is a forecast for stagnation for the rest of this year and through 2013. Also note that the forecast sees monthly job growth at just 100,000 a month in the third quarter, with the unemployment rate averaging 8.2%.
The worst recovery since the Great Depression shows no signs of improving, and Team Obama should expect no last-minute lift from it.
Update: August 1st, 2012: And again: