Obama enjoys advantage

2012-09-16 08:50

Washington - President Barack Obama has carved out a clear advantage in the White House race even as he juggles the demands of his re-election campaign with managing a raging Middle East crisis.

Obama appears to be enjoying a resilient bounce following the Democratic National Convention nearly two weeks ago, while his Republican challenger Mitt Romney has struggled to land telling blows.

The US leader has a small but definite advantage in most national polls of the race to the 6 November election, and more importantly looks strong in swing states that will decide whether he wins a second term.

But while he has benefited from the advantages of incumbency - including an ability to appear statesmanlike, Obama could also experience its downside if anti-US feeling racing through the Muslim world takes another deadly turn.

So far, Obama appears to have avoided missteps following the deaths of four Americans, including the US ambassador to Libya, that would erode his national security edge over Romney.

The president was up 10 points over his rival when voters were asked before the crisis who they trust more to steer foreign policy, in a CBS/New York Times poll.

National security

Obama's campaign team would welcome an election fought over the more friendly terrain of national security, rather than the tepid economy, for which he is responsible.

But with Americans, including diplomats and Marines sent to protect them vulnerable in the Arab world, Obama cannot yet afford to breathe easy.

"If this mushrooms and goes on, and we're seeing people attacking US interests, then yes, it would raise foreign policy on the agenda of the election," said Michele Dunne, director of the Rafik Hariri Centre for the Middle East at the Atlantic Council.

But Dunne added that even if unrest in North Africa and elsewhere went on, it was unlikely to trump the economy as the dominant issue of the election.

In recent days, Obama has repeatedly been called upon to handle the threats to US targets in Yemen, Sudan, Egypt, Libya and elsewhere, with one eye on his political prospects.

On Friday, he officiated in the return of the American dead from Libya, then nipped out of the White House for meetings with his campaign team and a big money fundraiser in Washington.

Obama fitted in trips to swing states Nevada and Colorado, with visits to Ohio, Florida, Wisconsin and Virginia on deck.

Eight weeks before the election and three weeks before the first of three presidential debates with Romney, Obama appears well placed.

In Gallup's daily tracking poll on Saturday, Obama was up 49% to 45% on Romney and in the RealClearPolitics average of national polls, he was up three percent on the Republican.

In Wall Street Journal/NBC/Marist College polls, Obama led Romney 49% to 44% in Florida, by 50% to 43% in Ohio and in Virginia by 49 to 44%.

Should Obama duplicate that performance in November, he would easily capture the required 270 electoral votes.

Obama also erased the edge on the economy - the top election issue, that Romney formerly enjoyed, despite disappointing jobs data last week and unemployment rate of 8.1%. 

Critics have questioned Romney's decision on Friday to appear on a soft focus daytime chat show on Friday, addressing trivial issues like what he wears to bed each night instead of focusing on the Middle East.

  • mark.barker.370 - 2012-09-16 09:14

    Obama isn't handling the crisis in the Middle East - his only focus is on getting re-elected. Worst US President since Jimmy Carter

      jean.tredoux.5 - 2012-09-16 09:50

      And how is the middle east handling the crisis?! We have a whole Union going on there as well but not much coming from their side but of course let's blame Obama. Oh and looking at the attacks Romney keeps throwing at countries I doubt that he would do any better!

      elewies - 2012-09-16 10:58

      Matt you are f#cking kidding me? Its the Republicans who are passing anti-voting legislation throughout some 33 states to prevent minorities from voting! Would you acknowledge this? Tell me EXACTLY how Obama is evil. FACTS PLEASE. Its Republicans who are extremely anti-women. They don't want women to make their own health decisions, they are inventing crap like terms like 'legitimate rape' and 'facts' like a woman's body won't conceive a baby when she is raped in order to justify banning abortion, all because real facts don't support their political views. They want to scrap Obamacare that forbids insurance companies from charging women more than men because being a woman is 'a pre-existing' condition. Its the Republicans who voted against legislation that requires employees to pay women the same amount as they pay men for the same amount of work. Republicans are damn evil and its good to know that Obama will win again, which will cause republicans to fight among themselves. They will conclude that they lost because their candidate was a moderate and in 2016 they will nominate a VERY conservative candidate, therefore paving the way for Hilary Clinton to become the first female president of the US in 2016! Whoopa!

      jean.tredoux.5 - 2012-09-16 11:26

      Mattwerk you just got owned by elewies!!!

      elewies - 2012-09-16 12:40

      BTW Mark, how is Obama worse than Jimmy Carter. Something tells me you watch a lot of Fox News' right-wing propaganda because that's what they always say. 'Obama is worse than Jimmy Carter'. When people ask why they think that, they point to Obama's failed foreign policies (which is laughable as Obama ordered the kill on Osama when Mitt Romney explicitly said he wouldn't give the go ahead if it would mean violating Pakistani sovereignty). And Fox News also likes to tell their stupid viewers that Obama is the most left-wing president that the US has ever had. Then rational people ask them why and they point to Obamacare. Obamacare is not a left-wing health care ideology, it is actually a plan that was developed by REPUBLICANS in the 1980s. A true left-wing health care ideology is a single payer plan. BUT Obama had to compromise, something the Republicans know nothing of.

      fishycraig - 2012-09-16 14:24

      You mention that the Republicans are trying to prevent minorities from voting. How? By enforcing everyone shows ID. How on earth is that bad? Most of the states applying for this law are providing free access to IDs. We live in a country that is first world in some ways and definitely third world in others yet everyone has to produce their ID here. I drove past a village stuck in Limpopo where they couldn’t vote because there were crocodiles in the river so they couldn’t cross to the voting booths. It was that remote yet everyone had their ID. If you need ID to buy a drink in America you definitely need one to vote for your president. And let’s not forget which party set out the Jim Crow laws – something Verwoed and Malan would have been proud of when it comes to preventing certain people from voting. War on women? Sure, the Republicans don’t help themselves with the likes of Akin but he is a loose cannon – just as much as the Democrats have their wonky thinkers. And most of this “war on women” centres around providing free contraception. If you can’t take responsibility for your sex habits then you really shouldn’t be asking the government for it. When you have a country that believes that abortion is a legit form of birth control just where their has sense of responsibility gone. (By the way, I am not anti-abortion but damn, as a form of birth control??)

      fishycraig - 2012-09-16 14:33

      You say that Obama has succeeded in his foreign policy. Yes, at first I would have agreed. Up until now. His handling of the Arab Spring was great to start out with and I fully agreed with it. But yet again, much the same as with Carter and his handling or Iran in the late 70’s, he has failed when it mattered most. Democrats are great when it comes to the theory of democracy but fail to follow up with some firm handling. The militant “Islamic” people who are rioting and killing Americans will walk all over Obama and his appeasement policies. Obama had Osama killed? Well, Bush had Saddam Hussein captured and hanged. Neither president had a hand in it other than signing a piece of paper authorising it. You go on about Fox News – have you watched MSNBC lately? MSNBC barely ever has a Republican on their panels yet Fox News almost always does. Yes, Fox News is definitely pro-Republican and it is sad that objective journalism has almost disappeared but ABC, MSNBC, CNN are just as bad, if not worse, when it comes to subjective reporting.

      elewies - 2012-09-16 15:09

      @ Fishy- Thanks for your arguments. Do you realise that America doesn’t have a sort of identity book like system as we do? REPUBLICANS argue that this is a silly idea and just government trying to force themselves on free Americans even more. So what counts as an ID to vote in America? In most states you can just show a normal document that provides some kind of proof that vouches to your identity, like a college transcript, a letter addressed to you by a company, a lease contract, driver’s license, etc. But now these 33 Republican states are implementing stricter voter ID laws- basically allowing only a driver license or state issued photo ID if you want to vote. Now most Americans do have driver’s licenses, but many don’t. For example only 3% of students in Wisconsin have a driver’s license. Up to 40% of black people do not have driver’s license. Many elderly people do not have such a license. MANY people living in big US cities rely on public transport and don’t have cars. You say okay why not just get the state issued photo IDs? Well it costs money and people will have to take time off of work. You say most states will issue free IDs, not true…

      elewies - 2012-09-16 15:10

      …To get the IDs the voter has to pay about $60 for all the necessary documents. Remember the majority of people who are affected by these requirements are very poor so they can’t afford to take time off or pay the $60 to get the ID. Since 16-whatever America has voted without the need for these voter ID laws. And now suddenly Republicans want it? They say it’s to stop wide spread voter fraud. Well guess what? On average only 0.00004% of ballots are deemed fraudulent. That’s not a big problem is it? Especially not if you are a Republican who claims the economy is the biggest priority at the moment. []

      elewies - 2012-09-16 15:11

      @Fishy- Akin might have been a bit over the top, but then again Paul Ryan (Mitt’s veep) co-sponsored a bill with Akin that tried to redefine rape. And no the war on women does not revolve around the provision of free contraception to women. The war on women is essentially the fact that republican lawmakers are passing bills in conservative states that require pregnant women to get a vaginal probe and a nice little sonar picture of their baby. They are then forced to go back home and look at the picture for at least 24 hours before coming back to get the abortion. This is psychological blackmailing. They’re torturing women into guilt who have already had to go through the tough decision making process of having an abortion. Some of these states even have clauses in their bills which allow doctors to not disclose medical information about the woman or her baby if the doctor believes that this information will lead the woman to decide to have an abortion. That is absolutely DISGUSTING. I agree some women use abortion as birth control, but that should be addressed in another way. Maybe better sex education classes? [ &]

      elewies - 2012-09-16 15:21

      @Fishy- The killing of the ambassador is not Obama’s foreign policies’ fault. If you say that, then George Bush’s foreign policy is the reason for the killing of 2600 hundred Americans and Ronald Reagan’s for the Beirut bombing. No the problem is that there is anti-American sentiment because America continues to police the world. They try to force down democracy and human rights on Arab countries. Arab countries do not want the kind of democracies the West have and the West (including America) should accept that, Republicans and Democrats. So there will continue to be anti-American sentiment as long as Reps and Dems continue to meddle in the domestic affairs of countries like Egypt and Libya.

      elewies - 2012-09-16 15:35

      @Fishy- The difference between Fox and MSNBC is facts. Yes MSNBC is a heavily left leaning news channel, but they argue based on facts. And the main anchor of their biggest morning show (Morning Joe) is in fact a Republican, and I always see Republicans on there, such as Steve Schmidt and Arie Flicher. The anchor of morning Joe is a very outspoken Republican and when he bashes Obama he uses facts like ‘Obama has increased our debt by $5 trillion’. That is a true statement. Which I respect. Compare that to Fox News: ‘Obama is the most reckless spender since f#ck knows when and he has increased our national debt by $15 trillion. More than all of the 16 previous presidents combined’. Which is untrue. Obama has only spent $5 trillion dollars which includes bailouts (that the Republicans supported those last few months Bush was still president) and welfare (including Obamacare). The rest of that $15 trillion dollars is Obama paying for Bush’s two wars. Yes Bush never paid for those wars and just put them on credit cards. Obama is actually paying for Bush’s unpaid wars. But you see, Fox will gladly mention Obama’s $15 trillion debt debacle, but you will never ever ever hear them explain that it actually includes Bush’s wars as well. So remember: MSNBC pushes their progressive ideology using facts and Fox scares the sh#t out of stupid people by distorting facts

      fishycraig - 2012-09-16 15:58

      Hi Eleweis… Thanks for a good argument – something other News24 commenters should take note of. Where to start with? Well, let me start from your last comment. Look, I agree that Fox News does use scare tactics but so does MSNBC. Have you seen their ads during the breaks – the Lean Forward ones. These are blatantly subjective and use scare tactics Fox News would be proud of, albeit from the wrong side of the political spectrum! Sorry, haven’t watched Morning Joe but I do watch Rachel Maddow, Laurence O’Donnell and Al Sharpton. Why? To get both sides and maybe, just maybe get a “fair and balanced” view. I nearly fell of my sofa when I heard Maddow actually criticise Obama over the handling of the rioting in the Middle East! As much as I couldn’t believe Fox News knocking Akin. Personally I find Al-Jazeera to be the most objective with the BBC a distant second. But yeah, listening to journalists ranting their skewed opinions is more fun I suppose…!

      fishycraig - 2012-09-16 16:13

      As for the ambassador who was killed I am not saying that Obama sat there looking at surveillance footage and gleefully watched him get killed. What I am saying is that Obama’s foreign policy after the Arab Spring has just not been strong enough. I do feel sorry for Obama, however. I can see his heart was in the right place but he has a total lack of understanding that these rioters are not interested in peace, fair elections, etc. Given half a chance these thugs will throw a stone or fire an RPG at the drop of a hat. If Obama stood up and roundly criticised the people responsible for this killing and vowed retribution (militarily or financially) and took a strong stance I would agree with him. Rather he tried to blame it all on this video and make the Arab world “understand” him. Each president has had his problem, from Carter and the embassy debacle to Obama and what is transpiring now. It isn’t so much what happened but how they handled it afterwards. Carter failed and paid the price. Let’s see if Obama can take a strong stance and gain political points or if he will continue with his appeasement and apologetic manner and possibly become the second Carter.

  • Tshepo Mongale - 2012-09-16 14:44

    typical south of some commentators here

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