Apparently, those polls that show President Obama leading most of his GOP challengers in head-to-head match-ups do not impress pollsters Patrick Caddell and Douglas Schoen. That’s noteworthy because Caddell and Schoen are Democratic pollsters — and they argue, in an op-ed in today’s Wall Street Journal, that for the good of the country and the Democratic Party, Obama should step aside in 2012 and let a certain runner-up stand for election (cough, cough, Hillary Clinton, cough, cough:
Certainly, Mr. Obama could still win re-election in 2012. Even with his all-time low job approval ratings (and even worse ratings on handling the economy) the president could eke out a victory in November. But the kind of campaign required for the president’s political survival would make it almost impossible for him to govern — not only during the campaign, but throughout a second term.
Put simply, it seems that the White House has concluded that if the president cannot run on his record, he will need to wage the most negative campaign in history to stand any chance. With his job approval ratings below 45% overall and below 40% on the economy, the president cannot affirmatively make the case that voters are better off now than they were four years ago. He — like everyone else — knows that they are worse off.
Obama’s only chance, they write, is to argue that Republicans “represent a more risky and dangerous choice than the current administration — an argument he’s clearly begun to articulate.” The trouble with that, they note, is that doing so is already contributing to the partisan gridlock in Washington — as they predicted in another op-ed a year ago.
Caddell and Schoen argue the secretary of state has a better chance of winning than her current boss does, and that’s not all:
A CNN/ORC poll released in late September had Mrs. Clinton’s approval rating at an all-time high of 69% — even better than when she was the nation’s first lady. Meanwhile, a Time Magazine poll shows that Mrs. Clinton is favored over former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney by 17 points (55%-38%), and Texas Gov. Rick Perry by 26 points (58%-32%).
But this is about more than electoral politics. Not only is Mrs. Clinton better positioned to win in 2012 than Mr. Obama, but she is better positioned to govern if she does. Given her strong public support, she has the ability to step above partisan politics, reach out to Republicans, change the dialogue, and break the gridlock in Washington.
Who would ever have thought, four years ago, much less 12 years ago, that anyone could have argued that Hillary Clinton is the Democrats’ best bet to govern alongside Republicans?
One word of caution: Schoen was a pollster for Bill Clinton and just might have a bit of bias here (Caddell worked for Jimmy Carter). But it surely says something about Obama’s political peril that, 11.5 months before the 2012 election, any Democratic pollsters at all are still voicing such concerns about his viability.
– By Kyle Wingfield