Mike Berman’s Washington Watch

February 17, 2012 11:55 AM

The Presidential General Election

Interest in the November 2012 Presidential election is running slightly behind where it was running in 2008 at this time. Currently, on a scale of 10, with 10 being “very interested”, 78% score their interest at 8, 9 or 10. In 2008, that number was 86%. [NBC/WSJ 1/12]

12 States were seen as solidly Democratic politically in 2011, down from 30 States which were described that way in 2008, when Barack Obama was elected. An additional 7 States were described as lean-Democratic, about the same number as 2008. The number of States described as solidly Republican has grown over the same period from 4 to 10. and the number of lean-Republican States has grown from 1 to 7. Truly competitive States have grown from 10 to 15.

  2011 2008
Solid Democratic or Lean 19 36
Competitive 15 10
Solid Republican or Lean 17 5

The number of those who describe themselves as supporters of the Tea Party Movement has not grown over the last year, with 27% expressing that view in January of both 2011 and 2012. The number who describe themselves as not supporting the movement has grown slightly to 66%. [NBC/WSJ 1/12]

From the point of view of the President’s re-election effort, the scenarios remain the same. If the election is a referendum on Obama he has a problem. If it is a contest between himself and the Republican nominee, his prospects are improving. And, should he have the good fortune of being able to make the election a referendum on the Republican nominee, he is on his way to a good victory. Recent statements and actions of the Republican nominees make the possibility of the latter slightly better.

Obama’s team must also be listening with a certain pleasure to those in the Republican Party who talk of a brokered convention. It is hard to imagine the type of campaign that would be put together by a nominee who was not certain he would be in the general election until the Thursday before Labor Day, two months before the election.

But it is important not to forget that all that goes on now is, in fact, preliminary. More likely than not, the Republicans will have a nominee long before their convention and before a whole new cluster of voters begin to pay real attention to the election.

2012 Presidential General Election

Over the past 6 weeks, Obama’s general election prospects appear to have improved.

2012 Presidential General Election
Survey Last Date Obama Republican (generic) Sample
NBC/WSJ 1/12 47 42 RV
Pew 1/8 41 41 RV
NBC/WSJ 12/11 45 35 RV
    Obama Romney  
PEW 2/12 52 44  
CNN/ORC 2/12 51 46  
CBS/NYT 2/12 48 42  
CBS News 1/8 45 47  
CNN/Op.Res. 12/18 52 45  
USA/Gallup 12/18 50 48  
NBC/WSJ 12/11 47 45  
    Obama Santorum  
PEW 2/12 53 43  
CNN/ORC 2/12 52 45  
CBS/NYT 2/12 49 41  
CBS News 1/8 47 43  
    Obama Paul  
CNN/ORD 2/12 52 45  
CBS/NYT 2/12 50 39  
CBS 1/8 46 45  
CNN/Op.Res 12/18 52 45  
ABC/WP 12/18 49 44  
NBC/WSJ 12/11 50 37  
    Obama Gingrich  
CNN/ORC 2/12 55 42  
CBS/NYT 2/12 54 36  
CBS News 1/8 49 41  
CNN/Op.Res. 12/18 56 40  
USA/Gallup 12/18 50 48  
NBC/WSJ 12/11 51 40  

As a point of comparison, at this same time in 2004, John Kerry led George Bush by 55% to 43%. And in 1996 at this time, Bill Clinton headed Bob Dole By 56% to 40%. [Gallup]

The Electoral College

Here are two cuts that WW will regularly reprint as we head toward the Presidential election. 270 Electoral votes are needed to win.

The Cook Political Report – Democrat vs. Republican
  1/12 2/12
Solid Dem 186 175
Likely Dem 0 7
Lean Dem 35 19
  221 201
Toss Up 98 142
Solid GOP 159 143
Likely GOP 37 48
Lean GOP 23 4
  219 195
The Rothenberg Political Report – Obama vs. Romney
Obama States 186 186
Lean Obama 31 51
  217 237
Toss Up 46 64
Romney States 191 191
Lean Romney 84 46
  275 237

Just how much money will the Obama campaign be able to raise? For months commentators have talked about the campaign raising $1 billion. The Obama campaign has been assiduous in calling that talk crazy.

The campaign collected $130 million in 2011. This is a substantial amount, but that leaves $870 million to be raised in order to reach the $1 billion mark. This money would have to be raised in time to be used in the campaign, which effectively means by the 1st of October. That means the campaign would have to take in $96.6 million each month. Short of simply passing out dollars, most high cost campaign activity requires advance planning and reservation. The Obama campaign announced on February 17th that the campaign and the DNC had raised $29.1 million together in January. The campaign share was only $11.8 million (NYT).

Of course these numbers do not take into account the amounts that will be raised by the Democratic National Committee and Priorities USA, the super Pac established to support his re-election.

Obama has changed his tune when it comes to “acknowledgement and support” of the Super PAC created to support his candidacy.

Given the relatively modest amount that the PAC raised in 2011, $4.4 million, it was clear that Obama was going to have to do something if the PAC was going to be of value in the coming election.

And so, while claiming that he opposed the whole idea of Super PACs, the President did what was necessary to signal that he wanted wealthy Democratic donors to play beyond their contributions to his campaign and the Democratic National Committee. Others announced that he had agreed that Cabinet members , senior White House officials, and campaign staffers were free to participate in the Super PAC’s ongoing efforts.

The President’s new position was inevitable. No one believed that the two ex-White House staffers who started Priorities USA did it without at least the implicit approval of the President. However, without his acknowledgement of its importance, it would not have met its goals or the broader campaign’s needs.

InTrade Prediction Market

As of 10 a.m. February 16th , here are the bids for shares in Obama’s re- election prospects. (The higher the bid the more likely the buyer believes the prospects of victory.)

  1/12 2/16
Barack Obama 50.6 60.3

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