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Reading the Signs on the Road to Obama’s Reelection

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

President Obama on Monday became the first officially declared candidate for the 2012 presidential race, and the early signs suggest it could be a competitive contest.

The president’s overall job approval rating has been around 46% or 47% for the past year and a half.  That number is the best single indicator of his reelection prospects since incumbents usually end up with a share of the vote that’s pretty close to their job approval rating.

Barring a major foreign policy surprise, the biggest issue of Election 2012 is likely to be the U.S. economy. More specifically, it may be the way that people are feeling about their own finances. At the moment, the trend is not encouraging. Just before Lehman Brothers collapsed in September 2008, 43% of Americans rated their personal finances as good or excellent. That fell to 38% on the night Obama won the White House that November and 35% on the day he was inaugurated in January 2009. The downward trend has continued, and just 30% now rate their own finances in such positive terms.

“If you had to pick just one number that would improve the president’s chances for reelection, this would be it,” Scott Rasmussen explains. “If people feel better about their own finances, the president’s job approval will move up. If the personal finance number declines any further, the president could be in trouble.”

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