"It's still the economy, stupid", part two

US voter confidence in the economy is falling rapidly. The good news for Obama? Well, once you're at

Economic confidence among US voters remains stubbornly low according to the latest Gallup poll. On the whole, US voters are less confident about the economy than they were in 2010.

Economic confidence is still down

In more bad news for Obama, fewer and fewer people think that things are getting better.

Gulp. Obama could be in trouble.

Unless a 9/11 style catastrophe interrupts the election process, 2012 will be fought on the economy. This makes polls like the above very, very important.

Mitt Romney's campaign, for instance, has focused so far almost entirely on unemployment - and with great success. Despite misgivings among Republican supporters about his religion and healthcare reform support for Romney is strong and, more importantly, it is increasing. While other campaigns have stuttered - particularly those of Newt Gingrich and Tim Pawlenty - Romney has stayed out in front. It is fair to assume that this is, in part, because Romney is seen as a safe pair of hands on the economy.

How can Obama fight against this? The only bright spot for Obama is the fact that, well, things can't get much worse. There is such pessimism among voters currently that any improvement will improve Obama's polling numbers, which, while not great, are not terrible either. If the economy does pick up from its current slump, Obama will be the main political beneficiary.

Things can better. And for Obama's sake, they better.

Photo: Getty
Show Hide image

What does François Bayrou's endorsement of Emmanuel Macron mean for the French presidential race?

The support of the perennial candidate for President will boost Macron's morale but won't transform his electoral standing. 

François Bayrou, the leader of the centrist Democratic Movement and a candidate for the French presidency in 2007 and 2012, has endorsed Emmanuel Macron’s bid for the presidency.

What does it mean for the presidential race?  Under the rules of the French electoral system, if no candidate secures more than half the vote in the first round, the top two go through to a run-off.

Since 2013, Marine Le Pen has consistently led in the first round before going down to defeat in the second, regardless of the identity of her opponents, according to the polls.

However, national crises – such as terror attacks or the recent riots following the brutal arrest of a 22-year-old black man, who was sodomised with a police baton – do result in a boost for Le Pen’s standing, as does the ongoing “Penelopegate” scandal about the finances of the centre-right candidate, François Fillon.

Macron performs the most strongly of any candidate in the second round but struggles to make it into the top two in the first. Having eked out a clear lead in second place ahead of Fillon in the wake of Penelopegate, Macron’s lead has fallen back in recent polls after he said that France’s rule in Algeria was a “crime against humanity”.

Although polls show that the lion’s share of Bayrou’s supporters flow to Macron without his presence in the race, with the rest going to Fillon and Le Pen, Macron’s standing has remained unchanged regardless of whether or not Bayrou is in the race or not. So as far as the electoral battlefield is concerned, Bayrou’s decision is not a gamechanger.

But the institutional support of the Democratic Movement will add to the ability of Macron’s new party, En Marche, to get its voters to the polls on election day, though the Democratic Movement has never won a vast number of deputies or regional elections. It will further add to the good news for Macron following a successful visit to London this week, and, his supporters will hope, will transform the mood music around his campaign.

But hopes that a similar pact between Benoît Hamon, the Socialist Party candidate, and Jean-Luc Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the Left Front’s candidate, look increasingly slim, after Mélenchon said that joining up with the Socialists would be like “hanging himself to a hearse”. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to British politics.