For the first time in a long time, President Barack Obama and Democrats have some reason to be confident as they look toward the 2012 election, just under nine months away. In the new POLITICO- George Washington Battleground Poll, the President is in strong shape personally, professionally, and electorally—well over the fifty percent threshold in match-ups against the two leading GOP contenders. And voters themselves are feeling more optimistic about the direction of the country. However, the President’s changing fortunes are not only a reflection of his own successes. Heady from their 2010 electoral successes, and amplified by the insular dynamics of the Presidential Primaries, the Republican Party has doubled down on its severely conservative agenda as well as its strategy of denying the President even the most modest of achievements; the dangers of this high-risk gambit for the GOP are starting to show. The Republican primary process has primarily served to reveal its candidates as deeply flawed individuals with very high negative ratings among women voters in particular.
However, Democrats would be unwise to grow overconfident or shift from the aggressive posture that has taken them to this point. Neither the President’s rebounding numbers nor Congress’ dismal ratings is yet translating into an advantage for Democrats on the Congressional ballot or into a substantial advantage on the dimensions of the economy and jobs. The President’s success in reviving the American auto industry, his focus on a “Made in America” jobs agenda, and his efforts to level the playing field for American workers a nd taxpayers are all critical in articulating a vivid contrast between the two Parties—and defining the dysfunction on Capitol Hill. The GOP’s opposition to robust job creation efforts and its prescription of continued austerity for the 99% of Americans—coupled with its war on women’s health and reproductive rights—only serve to set this contrast in high relief and cement Democrats’ electoral fortunes.