As I have stated before, the economy is the Democrats’ signature issue, and the one on which they rely to win elections, particularly on a statewide and national basis. The Washington Post has a poll out today which demonstrates further why Obama is vulnerable in 2012: In February, 2009, voters approved of his handling of the economy by a 60-35 margin. Today, they disapprove of his handling by a 57-42 margin. A stunning 46% of voters strongly disapprove of Obama’s handling of the economy. Note, of course, that this is a different issue from Obama’s handling of the deficit, and Republicans should be wary of confusing the two.
It is nonetheless a mistake to assume that Obama’s 2012 candidacy is dead in the water. Obama still holds a small lead over everyone in the likely field due largely to broad dissatisfaction with the potential Republican candidates. As this same poll notes, a year before the 2008 election, 69% of Republicans were happy with the field of potential Republican candidates (despite it being a lackluster crew). Today, only 43% of Republicans are happy with the potential field.
Obama is an eminently defeatable candidate and is vulnerable on the one issue Democrats vitally need to win elections. However, this poll shows that the GOP should avoid the Democrats’ mistake in 2004 and not assume that Obama will collapse under the weight of his own negatives. We’ll have to do better than a ham sandwich for a candidate in order to win in 2012.