A few months ago, during the Republican primaries, when the many candidates were taking public digs at each other, crumbling under infidelity scandals, or proving to be just short of certifiably wackadoo, President Obama’s re-election seemed like a foregone conclusion. But now that Romney has doubled-down on his general election campaign and gained supporters, despite proving himself to be economically out of touch, a former (and likely current) bully, and flip-flopper on issues of vital importance to voters this go-round, Obama’s once-solid re-election odds are apparently becoming shakier.
According to an AP report published today at The Huffington Post, democratic strategists are feeling the campaign pressure, stressing the need for increased support from donors and voters.
Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg and former Clinton adviser James Carville this week wrote that Obama’s efforts to convince voters that economic conditions are moving in the right direction aren’t swaying people.
“We will face an impossible head wind in November if we do not move to a new narrative,” the strategists wrote.
Former Democratic Party chairman Don Fowler faulted the Obama camp for not laying more blame on Republicans for the slow economic recovery.
“The Obama campaign should make it clear whose fundamental fault the economic problems are, and they’ve chosen not to do that,” he said, echoing an argument made by other Democrats. “Not doing that, they forfeit an argument, a strategy, a technique toward making the Republicans bear responsibility for these problems.”
Further complicating POTUS’ 2012 bid are the results of a recent study by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz . A Harvard PhD candidate, Stephens-Davidowitz has confirmed long-held, but difficult-to-confirm suspicions about racism’s role in voting practices. Rather than relying on political poll results, where voters would be far less likely to admit to their racial biases, he took his search to Google Insights, a tool that shows researchers how often search terms where used in different parts of the country. According to his results, West Virginia, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Mississippi and Kentucky ranked highest for racially charged web searches. Pennsylvania was the only state Obama won in 2008.
In his New York Times piece, “How Racist Are We? Ask Google.,” Stephens-Davidowitz explained that, while his Google study’s research into the frequency of racist search terms doesn’t yield perfect results, it’s quite effective at painting an accurate portrait of racial animus:
The conditions under which people use Google — online, most likely alone, not participating in an official survey — are ideal for capturing what they are really thinking and feeling. You may have typed things into Google that you would hesitate to admit in polite company. I certainly have. The majority of Americans have as well: we Google the word “porn” more often than the word “weather.”
And many Americans use Google to find racially charged material. I performed the somewhat unpleasant task of ranking states and media markets in the United States based on the proportion of their Google searches that included the word “nigger(s).” This word was included in roughly the same number of Google searches as terms like “Lakers,” “Daily Show,” “migraine” and “economist.”
These results come as no surprise, as racist attitudes have certainly become more overtly expressed since Obama’s 2008 election. Those who hold them aren’t as concerned about hiding beyond their computer screens to voice them. But will this increasingly vocal race hatred, coupled with growing democratic concerns over the president’s popularity within his party, hold much sway in determining whether Obama will spend another four years in office?