The politics of the debt fight were a drag for President Barack Obama, yanking his popularity to new lows. Here’s an even bigger drag: Obama emerges from the months-long fracas weaker – and facing much deeper and more durable political obstacles – than his own advisers ever imagined.
The consensus has been that for all his problems, Obama is so skilled a politician – and the eventual GOP nominee so flawed or hapless — that he’d likely be re-elected.
Don’t buy into it.
This breezy certitude fails to reckon with how weak his fundamentals are a year out from the general election. Gallup pegs his approval rating at a discouraging 42 percent, with his standing among independents falling nine points in four weeks.
His economic stats are even worse. The nation has 2.5 million fewer jobs today than the day Obama took office, a fact you’re sure to hear the Republicans repeat. Consumer confidence is scraping levels not seen since March 2009.
Where’s the bright spot? Hard to see. Obama has few, if any, domestic achievements that enjoy broad public support. No one assumes employment, growth or housing prices to pick up much, if at all — something Obama is essentially powerless to change. And the political environment and electoral map are significantly tougher than in 2008, especially in true up-for-grabs states.