Well-regarded pollster Mark Mellman* recently gave an upbeat look at President Obama’s re-election.
He disagrees with those who think that Obama is “toast” (Mellman spoke before the South Carolina primary, which if anything reinforced his calculations).
Mellman gives the following reasons;
1. Americans are reluctant to throw a party out of the white House after one term. Only one President in the last century has lost a second party term (Jimmy Carter in 1980; George H.W. Bush was running for a fourth Republican term in 1992).
2. Per capita real disposable income, rather than unemployment numbers, is the best indicator of re-election prospects, and while the income numbers have not dramatically increased, they have increased enough for Obama to be re-elected.
3. Demographic changes benefit the Democrats. African American and Hispanic voter participation — two groups that lean toward Democrats — is increasing as a proportion of the electorate while white participation is a smaller proportion. Obama only needs to win 40% of the white vote to triumph.
4. The path toward 271 electoral votes is much clearer for Obama than for any Republican challenger. The President could lose a number of the states he won in 2008, including Indiana, Florida, Ohio, North Carolina and Virginia, and still win. There are lots of ways that Obama can build an electoral majority; there are fewer avenues for Republicans.
5. If he is nominated, Romney has clear vulnerabilities, including his frequent position switches and his former company’s penchant for cutting jobs in the U.S. and creating them overseas. Newt Gingrich, who of course has his own vulnerabilities, has done a good job of bringing Romney’s problems to the fore. Romney’s national favorability ratings since South Carolina have declined significantly.
All this does not make Obama the likely winner in November; rather he has a better-than-even chance of re-election.
* Mark Mellman is president of The Mellman Group and has worked for Democratic candidates and causes since 1982. Current clients include the Majority Leader of the Senate and the Democratic Whip in the House. His talk was delivered on January 18.