Mr. Clinton and Mr. Reagan, though they are two recent examples, are nevertheless just two examples, and they were both once-in-a-generation political talents.Reagan was in the "greatest generation" and Bill Clinton is a Baby Boomer. This makes me want to dredge up the old question whether Obama is a Baby Boomer. Taking Silver's assertion seriously, if Bill is the "once-in-a-generation" talent, then Obama's not at the Clinton level. But I'll just link back to that time I assumed Obama was not a Baby Boomer and you readers argued with me about it. Well, maybe you've changed your mind. I haven't.
[Would Obama] win re-election if an election were held tomorrow[?] His approval ratings right now are quite similar to where George W. Bush’s were at the end of 2004. Mr. Bush won re-election, albeit very narrowly and against a relatively weak Democratic nominee.There's the economy, which might improve. And there's the post-election flurry of activity by the doomed Democratic majority in Congress, and then, whatever will happen with the Republicans in the next session.
Then again, the set of prospective Republican nominees is also perhaps rather weak.... [I]f an election were held tomorrow, Mr. Obama would be a clear favorite against Ms. Palin, and probably about even money (although perhaps a very slight favorite) against a less divisive Republican nominee....
[But] an election won’t be held tomorrow. Do we have any inkling yet about whether Mr. Obama’s standing with the public is likely to improve or decline by 2012?
Mr. Obama will be fighting from a defensive posture on health care, which remains unpopular with the public....It seems to me that people generally tend to hate Congress, so it will help the President to have an oppositional Congress.
Ultimately, however, Mr. Obama is more popular than the Republican Congress — an advantage that Bill Clinton did not have after 1994, nor Ronald Reagan after 1982. With the equally unpopular Democratic Congress largely being marginalized, that may work to his advantage....
Until we get a better sense for how the dynamics between Mr. Obama and the Republicans will play out — or in which direction the economy is headed — I would be skeptical of analyses that seem to express a significant amount of confidence on either side of that figure.