As President Obama sets off on his “Betting On America” bus tour through the key swing states of Pennsylvania and Ohio, both the Obama and Romney campaigns are anxiously awaiting the numbers from Friday's monthly jobs report. As they wait, it's clear that the Supreme Court's ruling last week to uphold ObamaCare will not be enough to reelect the president in 2012.
To be sure, President Obama now finds himself in a slightly stronger position vis-à-vis Mitt Romney than he was just a few weeks ago – with the latest Real Clear Politics average showing the him enjoying a narrow 2.6 point (47.0 percent to 44.4 percent) lead over Mitt Romney.
And any lingering doubts that the ruling presented a clear short-term win for the President and the Democratic leadership were resolved during Monday’s television appearance by Romney senior campaign adviser Eric Fehrnstrom, who argued on MSNBC that the mandate is a penalty, not a tax – breaking with congressional Republicans in the process.
But notwithstanding the confusion and division that developed within the GOP in the wake of the Supreme Court's surprise verdict to uphold Obama's health care reform law, there is no sense that either candidate’s overall political standing has changed.
Recent polling shows clearly and unambiguously that the former Massachusetts Governor remains within striking distance of the president – whose vulnerability in the polls became clearer and clearer over the course of the week.
Here's why: President Obama’s job approval rating is well below the crucial fifty percent mark in the latest polling by Gallup(45%-47% disapproval), and Rasmussen (46%- 53% disapproval), and the latest Real Clear Politics average has the president with a net negative approval rating (47.6% - 48.3%).
These findings are consistent with the results in a new Newsweek/Daily Beast poll, conducted by my polling firm, Douglas E. Schoen, LLC. immediately following the Supreme Court ruling – in which a solid majority (54%) of voters said they disapproved of President Obama’s overall job performance, a plurality of voters said it is time to replace him with someone else (48%), and only 42% said he has done his job well enough to deserve reelection.
Moreover, voters told us that Governor Romney would do a better job on handling virtually every single domestic policy measure than President Obama – including the economy (52%-37%), illegal immigration (41%-38%), health care (48%-40%), balancing the budget (48%-44%), fighting crime (35%-33%), and holding the line on taxes (45%-42%).
The fact that the president got no real bounce at all from the Supreme Court's ruling and saw no fundamental change in his approval ratings – even while a solid majority (58%) of voters see the Supreme Court decision as a major political win for Obama and while only 19% see it as a win for Romney, and 23% are unsure -- indicates the profound disquiet American voters feel with current economic circumstances.
These findings underscore the real and fundamental political problem that President Obama and indeed both parties face -- the economy.
Put simply, when voters head to the polls come November, their decision will hinge on jobs, housing and other economic indicators – not health care.
Having suffered in the polls following the poor job figures for March, April, and May, the only way the president can turn these numbers around is to demonstrate real leadership on fiscal issues.
Friday, the Labor Department will release the job report for June. Stay tuned.