“Trend lines matter. People make their decisions by Labor Day,” said Curtis Gans, the director of the Center for the Study of the American Electorate at American University. “If it looks like the economy is getting better, it will be hard for President Obama to lose,” he said. If the economy is continuing its rocky ride, there is “almost no way he can win,” he added.
And with Obama’s inability to greatly influence the economy even after his expensive stimulus programs, added Gans, “If I were in Obama’s shoes, I would take to prayer.”
The proof of how hard it is to convince the nation that things are getting better was seen in voter rejection of former President George H.W. Bush in the 1992 election won by Bill Clinton. The economy was improving in Bush’s last six months, but it hit home with voters far too late to help. “People didn’t feel it,” said Gans.
Gans also pointed to another area that could hurt the president on Election Day. Voter turnout, he said, will likely be down to normal levels due to a lack of enthusiasm for the candidates. Notably, he said, those hurt by the economy like blue collar white workers won’t be flooding the polls for Obama. Ditto, he said, with Latinos and younger voters. “Obama won’t do as well with them,” he said.
Seniors also will likely trend to Romney because they are more conservative on social issues though Gans said that Obama has a good target in Republican Rep. Paul Ryan’s spending slashing budget backed by the GOP presidential candidate.