The other day Gallup's daily tracking showed Obama's job approval at 43% which was the lowest it has been in this most recent quarter of his presidency, the fourteenth. Sometime in mid July Gallup will post President Obama's approval ratings for his entire fourteenth quarter in office and a dramatic turn around will be necessary for him to have even a hope at winning re-election.
Why is this? No president in modern history (since serious polling began) has won re-election with a quarterly approval rating below 50%. To show how accurate this indicator has been you need only look back to 2004 which was an extremely close election. George W Bush going into the election had a quarterly approval rating of 51% and the election results bore out the slimness of this margin of approval.
At the end of the thirteenth quarter Obama had improved his quarterly Gallup numbers substantially over his low of 41% which he reached in the eleventh quarter of his presidency but here is what Gallup gave for the reason for his improving numbers:
The improvement in Obama's approval rating is likely tied to more positive economic news in recent months, especially concerning unemployment.[emphasis added]
Since the end of the thirteenth quarter economic conditions have begun to deteriorate and the unemployment numbers have increased. But as bad as these indicators are for Obama, it is actually far worse.As it stands now, no president with approval ratings this low in the final year before his reelection has ever won.
For those of you who might believe that Obama will somehow be able to use his supposed "personal popularity" to turn around these numbers in his approval ratings consider this. Obama has not had a Gallup quarterly approval rating above 50% since his fourth quarter in office, his first year.
Some might be tempted to reply on the electoral math to help Obama Those all important "swing states". Well what is true in the nation as a whole is also true in the states, any state. If an incumbent president is below 50% approval he will most likely loose, if he is above he has a good chance of winning.
Again let's look back to 2004, Bush did not win a single state where his aproval rating was below 50%, not one. In fact he lost some where his approval was above 50%.
How does Obama fair in this important metric? As of the end of January Obama was above 50% approval in just 10 states and none of them were the all important "swing states".
One reason that this 50%threshold is so important for an incumbent is an almost iron clad rule in elections involving an incumbent, undecided voters overwhelmingly vote for the challenger. It is called the Incumbent Rule and the gist of it is this:
An incumbent leading with less than 50% (against one challenger) is frequently in trouble; how much depends on how much less than 50%. A common pattern has been for incumbents ahead with 50% or less to end up losing.
Taking this into consideration,using the RCP average of polls, in not a single "swing state" is Obama not only not at 50% approval, he does not lead Romney with over 50% of the vote.
Some key examples would be Florida where the RCP average has Obama at 47% to Romney's 45.2%, Ohio Obama 46.4% Romney 44.6%, Wisconsin Obama 47.4% Romney 44.4%, Colorado Obama 47.2% Romney 44.4%.
Even this understates Obama's weakness since the RCP is an average of all polls going back over a month and includes the less accurate "registered voter" polls rather than just the far more accurate "Likely Voter" polls. Since Romney became the presumptive nominee (when Santorum dropped out) I have been keeping a record of just "likely voter" polling in the Battleground states and the situation in these key states based on those polls is pretty bleak for Obama. For example in Wisconsin which has had a great deal of polling done recently, there have been four "likely voter" polls done in the past month. In order the results are Obama+4, Obama+6, Even, Romney+3. In Ohio where the RCP average shows Obama up by 1.8% the two most recent polls have both been "likely voter" polls both of which show Romney up by 2 and 3% respectively.
The situation for Obama is not only bad, it is near critical. This is why you see these extreme positions and policy changes such as the gay marriage and immigration maneuver. he has to somehow maximize his base turn out. It is the sign of a flailing candidate, these shifts will certainly not help him with "middle Americans". There is after all a reason that he dropped to 43% in the Gallup tracking poll and 44% in The Rasmussen within a week of announcing his immigration "reform." The Obama team is desperate.
Consider the graph above showing Obama's quarterly approval rating, does anyone seriously believe that there is anything that Obama can do to nudge that line above 50% in less than five months? Does anyone believe he can make a Mitt Romney look so unacceptable to the few undecided voters still remaining (less than 10%) as to push him over the top?
Given the current economic situation, the state of the electorate as it now stands, the historical precedent, the chances of Obama winning re-election is almost nil. This does not even include an overturning of Obamacare or a defeat in the Arizona immigration law in the Supreme Court which will only serve to remind American's how unpopular some of his polices and actions have been.
Obama is counting on a divisive campaign to shore up his constituencies but in the end all that he will do is unite the majority of American's to vote him out of an office he should have never held. Obama is running out of time.