Donald Lambro

Romney has stepped up his political appeals to women voters on economic issues, pointing out that no group has suffered more under the Obama economy than women, who have experienced high job losses and brutally severe poverty rates.

Hispanics, the fastest-growing minority group in the U.S., represent another hurdle for Romney, though there are indications that a large chunk of their vote is up for grabs on the issues of jobs and immigration.

Seventy-six percent of Hispanic voters have favorable views of Obama compared to 33 percent for Romney, the Post-ABC poll found.

Significantly, a relatively large bloc of Hispanics -- nearly three in 10 -- say they haven't formed an opinion of Romney.

President George W. Bush captured 44 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2004 and John McCain won 31 percent of them in 2008. So there's a larger base vote that Romney can win with a strong economic appeal to this pivotal bloc of voters in critical swing states.

Outside of African-American voters, no minority group has a higher unemployment rate than Hispanic/Latino Americans. And perhaps no other minority group of its size has been as successful in creating small businesses.

Republican insiders say that former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who is popular in the Hispanic community, is urging Romney's high command to make a major political appeal to the Hispanic/Latino vote. And plans are being made to do just that, possibly with Bush as a leading spokesman.

If Republicans can win 40 percent of this vote, Obama will be a one-term president.

Meantime, it needs to be said that Romney's early lead in the polls may not tell us much about the direction of the campaign in the months to come.

A nationwide Gallup poll conducted between April 20 and 22, 1992, showed President H.W. Bush leading with 41 percent of the vote, compared to 26 percent for Bill Clinton.

In early April 1980, Gallup had President Jimmy Carter leading former California governor Ronald Reagan by a substantial margin -- 42 percent to 34 percent.

But in the end, both Bush and Carter lost their bids for a second term.

The economy is going to shape and drive this election cycle, and right now it appears to be slowing down and there is nothing Obama can do about it.

Most economists have lowered their economic growth forecasts for the year to little more than a feeble 2 percent range, after limping through last year at 1.7 percent. That's not nearly enough for job creation to keep pace with population growth.

The 120,000 jobs created in March stunned the White House, and reports indicate that Obama's economic advisers do not expect the jobs picture to improve dramatically in the next several months.

That's why the White House has switched its election focus away from economic growth and new job creation to tax fairness and gimmicky soak-the-rich tax hikes like the Buffett Rule that failed in the Senate on Monday.

Obama's national job approval poll was a mediocre 46 percent this week, with 48 percent now disapproving of his presidential performance.

With jobs in short supply and a weak economy running nearly on empty, Mitt Romney has plenty of reasons to like his chances in November.


Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.