In my podcast with Ben Boychuk and Joel Mathis the other day, Joel took me to task for describing Obama as our first affirmative action president, as he should as a representative of the blue side of his and Ben’s red-blue tag team. I parried by saying that I thought it was doubtful that Democrats would have nominated a first-term U.S. Senator with such a thin record if he was white. And just as Obama’s mixed race helped him in 2008, it may still be a factor in why his approval ratings have held up higher than they ought to given the objective conditions of things.
I think Jim Geraghty of National Review’s “Morning Jolt” (subscription required, but it’s free!) gets to the nub of the matter:
It ties to a theory I’ve had for a while, that most apolitical voters desperately want to avoid concluding that the first African-American president of the United States is a failure, on par with a second term for Jimmy Carter. As a result, they will give Obama until the very last minute to demonstrate an ability to get the job done, to demonstrate that he can generate tangible improvements in their lives. But, if around October 2012, people don’t see tangible improvements in their lives, well, the bottom may fall out of his numbers. He’ll still have his loyal base, but the vast majority of independents will decide he just can’t get the job done.
I think this is very likely how it will turn out.