No May flowers for the Obama campaign.
Click here to listen to the broadcast of Decision 2012 with Paul Gleiser, Monday, June 4, 2012.
Two weeks ago, we wrote in this space that May was not going well for the Obama campaign. Things got no better as the month drew to a close.
Nothing seemed to go right in May. The campaign set out at the first of the month to attack Mitt Romney on his record as CEO of Bain Capital, only to have Cory Booker, the mayor of Newark, New Jersey, Deval Patrick the governor of Massachusetts and former president Bill Clinton all make statements to the effect that Romney did a fine job and that Bain Capital is a fine company with a good record.
The employment numbers released early in May showed a one tenth of a point decrease in the official unemployment rate, but it was quickly revealed that the fractional decrease was the result not of increased hiring, but instead because a third of a million workers had dropped out of the labor force.
Election day in North Carolina, a state that Obama carried by just 14,000 votes, saw a ballot measure on gay marriage do down to a decisive defeat. Vice President Joe Biden took to the stump prior to the election to come out in favor of gay marriage, the first time anyone in the administration had taken such a position. Either as an act of contrivance or because Biden overstepped, President Obama shortly thereafter changed his long-held position and came out himself in favor of gay marriage. This touched off some tense meetings between the president and a number of African-American clergymen, men who have historically supported Obama and probably still will, but this time with much less enthusiasm. This when the Obama campaign needs all the enthusiasm it can get.
As the president’s poll numbers slipped all through the month of May, the Romney campaign showed that it won’t be a repeat of the disastrous McCain campaign of 2008. In a couple of very well-timed and very well-executed appearances, Romney stood in front of the shuttered Solyndra facility in California and effectively hung the half billion dollar solar energy disaster around Obama’s neck. Then, at an Obama campaign appearance in Boston at which David Axelrod was sent to speak, Romney supporters turned out in sufficient numbers as to effectively shout Axelrod down.
Friday saw the release of more bad news on the economy. First GDP quarter growth was revised downward to an anemic 1.9 percent. Shortly thereafter, the employment number were released showing that the economy produced a mere 69,000 jobs in May and that the unemployment rate had ticked back up to 8.2 percent. This led to the worst day of the year so far on Wall Street. In the month of May, the Dow average gave up more than a thousand points, wiping out all of its year-to-date gains.
Then, over the weekend, New York Times columnist and staunch 2008 Obama supporter Maureen Dowd printed an article in which she sharply turns on the president. One of the money quotes: “The president who started off with such dazzle now seems incapable of stimulating either the economy or the voters.”
It’s still a long time until the election. But another month like May for Obama and his re-election chances will fade dramatically.
We shall see.