Obama’s Team Is Overconfident? Really?

Byron York highlights a curious phenomenon: President Obama’s re-election team is contemptuous of Mitt Romney and overconfident about Obama’s chances in November:

“To say that the [Obama] campaign doesn’t fear Romney is an understatement — he’s viewed as almost a joke,” the Web publication BuzzFeed reported this week in an inside look at Obama’s Chicago headquarters. As evidence of how hilarious the campaign finds Romney, BuzzFeed reported, Obama staffers have named their building’s elevators after cars in reference to the planned car elevator in Romney’s California home.

When they’re not joking about car elevators, some Obama staffers are reportedly obsessing over a nearly 30-year-old story about Romney’s dog. …

The Romney campaign is fully aware of the derision directed at Romney by the Obama camp. They don’t know what the president himself thinks, but they certainly believe the Obama campaign has no real respect for Romney, either as a politician or a man. But they’re not particularly troubled by it, because they suspect the end result will be that the Obama campaign will habitually underestimate Romney.

Overconfidence on the part of Obama’s team strikes me as little short of bizarre. The polls certainly don’t warrant it. There are, of course, bad polls like this one, which we will continue to see right up to election day. But meaningful polls–those with reasonable controls that sample likely voters–show that President Obama is in trouble. Today’s Rasmussen Survey includes a number of items that make the point. Obama is currently at -17 in Rasmussen’s Approval Index, the difference between the number of likely voters who strongly approve of his performance and those who strongly disapprove. He has no hope of getting anywhere near parity in this key index between now and November:

And that’s not all: Obama and Romney are currently in a dead heat among likely voters, 45%-45%. By five points, the GOP leads the generic Congressional preference among likely voters, 45%-40%. Support for investing in fossil fuels rather than “green” fuels is at an all-time high, and, by 44%-17%, voters think the Obama EPA hurts the economy. So Obama’s standing with voters is vulnerable at best.

Moreover, Obama’s re-election campaign faces two intractable problems: One, he has no record on which to run, a fact that the Democrats implicitly admit by fabricating one hysterical distraction after another. Two, he has no agenda for his second term, as Byron notes:

[E]ven though the president is well into his bid for re-election, he doesn’t have much of an agenda for a second term.

Higher taxes? More green energy? Something on immigration? Obama has so little to talk about in terms of serious policy proposals that he and his Democratic allies are devoting a lot of energy to a new drive for the Buffett Rule, the proposal that taxpayers who make more than $1 million a year pay their “fair share” — at least 30 percent — in federal income taxes. It’s not a terrible idea, and the world wouldn’t end if it were enacted. It’s just not very significant.

That is an understatement, as we noted here.

What of the Obama staffers’ contempt for Mitt Romney? The sentiment is, I think, seriously misplaced. Romney has moved steadily and methodically toward the Republican nomination, and I think he will do the same thing in the general election. He is, in my view, a good candidate, if not a great one. He is reminiscent of Ronald Reagan in that respect. In 1980, the Democrats desperately hoped the Republicans would nominate Reagan, on the theory that he would be a weaker candidate than George H. W. Bush. They were probably right about that. Reagan was a good candidate, but not a great one. He was, however, a great president, and I think Romney likewise has the potential to be a better president than presidential candidate. Be that as it may, I think he will, in any event, be a good enough candidate to defeat an incumbent whose record is so poor that it can barely be mentioned at all, and never honestly, by his supporters.

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