Such lack of seriousness in the face of monumental economic problems is as good a reason as any for explaining Mitt Romney’s ascension in the polls, based on little more than his stated intention to confront the economic issue. Yet it is no secret that Romney is a bridge too far for many Republicans, especially those who despise the mini version of ObamaCare that the former Governor of Massachusetts imposed on that state. Just as “endearing” is his stance on global warming, reiterated at a town hall meeting in New Hampshire on June 4, when he told the crowd that “the world is getting warmer,” and that he believes “humans contribute to that.” Romney also received bad reviews from the anti-tax organization the Club For Growth, which released a white paper noting that the candidate supports “positions that are simply opposite to those supported by true economic conservatives,” while maintaining his “unshakeable reputation as a flip-flopper.”
Yet according to the Post-ABC poll, only Romney and Sarah Palin polled in double-digits among Republicans and GOP-leaning independents “when asked whom they would vote for if a primary or caucus were held now in their state.” But the same poll shows that two-thirds of all Americans say they “definitely would not” vote for Palin for president, including 42 percent of Republicans who claim they’ve “ruled out” supporting her candidacy. Palin also fares the worst in a head-to-head match-up with the president, losing by 17 points, and other than Romney, none of the other choices offered by the poll — i.e. Newt Gingrich, former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, Jr., former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty and Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) — come within ten points of ousting the incumbent.
What does it all mean? For some conservatives, the Washington Post-ABC News poll has been greeted with a high degree of skepticism. There is substantial suspicion among those on the right that the mainstream media is determined to “anoint” the Republican candidate most easily beatable by the president. They point to John McCain as Exhibit A. Whether or not this is true — and the record of high polling for Romney suggests that it probably isn’t – skeptical conservatives may have a point about the prematurity of the polling results. Among the figures released is the number of Americans who say they’re currently following the 2012 presidential election “very closely.” The number stands at 22 percent.
Suspicions aside, it is not just Republicans who should be concerned with the results of the poll. By now, it should have occurred to the president and his supporters that being in a statistical tie with a Republican candidate despised by large portions of his own party may indicate far greater weakness on the president’s part than this poll indicates. Another ominous development for Mr. Obama is the resignation of his top economic advisor Austan Goolsbee on Monday, less than a year after he was appointed chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers. Like Mr. Obama, Goolsbee insists the economy is on the right track despite last week’s downbeat report, which he characterized as a “little bump” on the road to recovery. Ostensibly, he is leaving to preserve his tenured position at the University of Chicago.
Yet Goolsbee follows a parade of economic advisors who have left this administration, including Larry Summers, Christina Romer, Peter Orszag and Paul Volcker, with the lonely exception of Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. And the economic insanity continues unabated, highlighted by a report showing that the government added $5.3 trillion in new financial obligations in 2010, bringing to $61.6 trillion the total of financial promises not paid for, which comes to $534,000 per household. That debt includes pension and health benefits worth more than $700,000 per retired civil servant, which is another detail likely to infuriate Americans disgusted with the seemingly endless expansion of government obligations. Obligations a growing number of Americans are coming to realize are responsible for keeping this country mired in an economic downturn that no amount of happy talk is likely to overcome.
There is no question the phrase, “it’s the economy, stupid” resonates as much as it ever has. The real question with respect to the 2012 election is whether the phrase, “it’s the Obama administration, stupid” resonates even more.
Arnold Ahlert is a contributing columnist to the conservative website JewishWorldReview.com.
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