When you consider the state of our failing and slowing recovery and the cold hard fact that tens of millions of American are either out of work or have stopped looking for work, Obama's poll numbers are defying gravity. There's no way he should be tied with Mitt Romney. So what's keeping Obama afloat?
A lot of pollsters and pundits and nobodies like myself think it's two things. This isn’t a criticism and it will change as we get closer to the conventions, but we don’t really know Mr. Romney yet. The other thing is that President Obama is just so darn likable. Kind of like Cousin Eddie from the "Vacation" movies, Obama might be destructive, selfish, and not terribly bright -- but you just got to like the guy.
In polls, likability can be measured separately but also by what's known as "favorability" and, in poll after poll, Obama's favorability usually looks much better than his job approval ratings.
The new New York Times/CBS poll hit like a bomb -- especially for a corrupt media that has spent the last few weeks attempting to aid and abet Obama by beating Romney into the ground over tax returns. You've also had Obama and his crew blasting Romney with words like "felon" and -- at least according to a number of media fact-checkers -- shamelessly lying about Romney's business record.
The NYT/CBS poll hit like a bomb because it not only showed that these hysterical attacks haven't hurt Romney -- but that they have hurt Obama.
Like I said, the likely factor keeping Obama alive despite his failed record was his favorability, but in the NYT/CBS poll, Obama's favorability plummeted.
In April, the CBS/NYT poll had Obama's favorability rating at 42%, not favorable 45%. He was at -3.
This latest poll was taken between July 11-16 -- the heart of the Bain attacks -- and now has Obama's favorability at a stunning -12 --- 36% favorable, 48% not favorable.
The media knows this is a big deal which is why The New York Times tried to spin and excuse it:
The poll includes a drop in Mr. Obama's favorability ratings, with 36 percent saying they viewed him favorably and 48 percent saying they did not. In April, 42 percent expressed a favorable opinion of him and 45 percent an unfavorable one. But that change may have been affected by a reordering of this particular set of questions, which at this point in general election cycles are typically placed near the top of the survey. During the primary season, the questions about favorability were placed lower on the survey after queries about presidential job approval and other topics.
Among registered voters, the NYT/CBS poll also oversamples Democrats and Independents: D-33/R-27/I-41. There's no way the 2012 electorate will only be made up of 27% Republicans.
Regardless, the media keeps telling us that those precious Independents will decide the election and that those precious Independents despise negative campaigning. Well, if that's the case…
Among these over-sampled Independents, Obama is in real trouble -- upside down in all of the most important categories: job approval 35/49, economic job approval 31/61, favorability 28/52. Romney's beating Obama by a full 12 points among Independents and has a favorability rating of +1, 32/31.
Other polls back up the fact that Obama has lost precious ground in recent weeks -- the very same weeks in which the President and his campaign have been as vicious and despicable as any campaign in recent memory.
According to Quinnipiac, Obama has lost a 12 point lead in the crucial swing state of Virginia. Moreover, in June, Obama was ahead of Romney by 5, 47-42. Today the race in Virginia is tied, 44-44. And today's poll represents data collected between July 10-16 -- again, the heart of the Bain attacks.
A Rasmussen poll taken July 16-17 also shows Obama in trouble in Virginia. The President might be ahead by a single point, 47-46, but any incumbent that far below 50 is in real trouble.
All I know is that for the past few weeks Mr. Hope and Change has revealed himself to be Mr. Lie, Distract, Slash and Burn -- something, by the way, Cousin Eddie never did. And when you gamble with words like "felon" and tell lie after lie after lie and launch uncommonly vicious attack ads like this one, you are risking your likability.
With the one thing he had going for him, likability, and $100 million in attack ads, Obama gambled … and lost.
Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC