The Obama Vulnerability Cycle

The Obama Vulnerability Cycle

Trend lines in the past few weeks have conservatives feeling upbeat about the fall election.  Romney has been disciplined and steadfast, and has amalgamated his base already.  Obama meanwhile has been beleaguered with a slowing economy, critiques from his own base, and a series of mismanaged gaffes and unforced errors, from the Kill List leaks to the “private sector” miscue.  Polls reflect events, with Romney rising.  The President’s DREAM Act order was an attempt to change this momentum.  If history is a guide, this order may be the beginning of a renaissance for the President’s hopes. 

I identified a counter-trend prior to the amnesty order which leads me to advise Romney voters to not be too sanguine.  Back in January, when the President was enjoying one of his frequent re-honeymoons with the media, I noted that he has a tendency to rise and fall in the estimation of the punditocracy on a fairly predictable basis.  Indeed, I diagrammed several of these cycles to clarify.  The current Obama malaise fits right into this cyclic concept, and gives one pause regarding the permanency of the current downtrend.

In January of this year he was flying high.  “From George Will to Rachel Maddow, an increasing cohort of the commentariat assume… that the electorate will vote for the President again by default.”  But even then, I saw this opinion as fleeting.  I noted, “Obama was looking feeble after the 2010 elections.  After the President ‘cut taxes’ by continuing the Bush tax cuts (in December 2010), the media was falling over itself to declare him the winner two years in advance, his approval at 50%.  By March 2011, it was down to 40%, and he was ‘endangered.’  Then the Navy Seals got Bin Laden (in May), his approval spiked to 53%, and the media lined up to vote early, calling him a shoo-in.”  Evidence of vacillating approbation continued.  “But only four months later, his approval dipped to 39%, as not a single job was created in October.  He was ‘in peril.’  Even Chris Matthews was razzing him.  Then the unemployment rate fell to 8.6% in November, …the Prez chastised an unpopular Congress, (and).. most importantly, the war in Iraq came to an end.”  Voila, by January of this year, the President again seemed unassailable.  There were five clear oscillations in 14 months. 

Well, here it is June, and he’s looking beatable again.  This downturn began pre-Bain, in May.  So that is six cycles in about 18 months.  That means he goes from boom to gloom in about 3 months, give or take.  The theory has proven correct yet again.

The reason for these cycles is unclear, but I would speculate that the President tends to follow the news narrative rather than shape it.  As events unfold in a unpredictable manner, the President’s reputation is subject to wide swings.  

Where does that leave us now?  If the cycle theory is valid, by August a majority of the media will be expressing confidence in Obama’s re-election.  Barring any major event, such as war, there won’t be any huge spike in his polls.  But his prognosis will seem generally positive.  For those hoping to see him ousted, this must be seen as a real possibility, and will not be comforting.

So while many on my side of the aisle are smiling now, do not doubt there may be a time of great anxiety around Labor Day.   And yet, and yet.  There are three months from August til Election Day.  If the trend holds, the President will be entering a new down cycle by October.  If this cycle theory is valid and continues to unfold, the election will be close indeed, slight advantage Romney.