When Republicans formally nominate Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan next week, the race against President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden will be officially underway. Yet while the two teams represent different ideological views, different upbringings, different faith backgrounds and different experiences, neither of them has yet inspired any confidence among voters. Just 32 percent believe the economy will be stronger in a year if Obama is re-elected. Only 36 percent think it will be stronger if Romney wins.
One of the things Mitt Romney's selection of Paul Ryan as his running mate ensures is a series of polling questions over the coming months asking voters what's more important: creating jobs or cutting government spending; helping the economy or cutting deficits; repealing the president's health care law or focusing on the economy.
Just 16 percent of voters nationwide believe it was a good idea for the government to provide Solyndra with loan guarantees. The solar power company went bankrupt and stuck taxpayers with the tab for a half-billion dollars.
In my hometown, everyone is required to have a landline telephone so local officials can reach us with a reverse 911 call. It's a nice idea, but it doesn't work. In my family, we never use the landline. We talk on cellphones. Occasionally, telemarketers call. So do people looking for someone named "Danny," but we no longer answer. So, if a call came from our local government, we'd never hear their message. But when you're building a house and need to pass inspection, it's easier to put in the phone than fight city hall.
Consumer confidence fell to the lowest levels of 2012 this past week. Most Americans believe that both the economy and their own personal finances are getting worse. Just 25 percent believe the economy is getting better, and only 22 percent say the same about their personal finances.
Over the past few weeks, President Obama and his campaign team have launched a furious attack on Mitt Romney's record as head of Bain Capital, a highly successful venture capital firm.
There are plenty of reasons that the economy is the most important issue of Election 2012. Unemployment has remained high for a long time, and even 27 percent of those who have a job are worried about losing it. Only half of homeowners now believe their home is worth more than what they still owe on it. Just 16 percent believe that today's children will be better off than their parents.
Democrats were riding high in the polls in 2006 and 2008, and one of their big issues was health care. Then, after passing the president's health care law, the politics shifted, and the issue helped sweep the GOP to victory in the 2010 midterm elections. A few months later, Republicans had a 14-point advantage in terms of voter trust on the health care issue.
The U.S. Supreme Court's decision that President Obama's health care law is constitutional keeps it alive for now. But it's important to remember that the law has already lost in the court of public opinion. The Supreme Court ruling is a temporary reprieve more than anything else. In March, I wrote that the health care law was doomed even if it survived the court. Looking at the data today, it's hard to draw any other conclusion.
Every summer, millions of Americans enjoy baseball, summer camps and vacation plans. But for the nation's political junkies, every fourth summer is filled with guessing games about the vice presidential nomination. While the guessing games are fun, it's more accurate to look at the fundamentals facing the candidate and what he hopes to achieve.
The new Federal Reserve report showing that household net worth collapsed between 2007 and 2010 quickly became campaign fodder for both sides.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg ignited a firestorm of debate with his proposal to ban super-size sugary drinks in New York City. Critics bashed his nanny-statism, but supporters like first lady Michelle Obama hailed his courage.
The Obama campaign's early attempts to attack Mitt Romney's record at Bain Capital or present him as too extreme to be president have not worked out all that well so far. The early stumbles have created a flurry of commentaries wondering what's wrong with the team that performed so flawlessly in Election 2008.
President Obama, new French President Francois Hollande and other political leaders have called for less "austerity" as a way to help the troubled economies on both sides of the Atlantic. That's the polite way of saying they want more government spending and larger deficits.
Mitt Romney has pulled a point or two ahead of President Obama in polls of likely voters. In polls of registered voters, Obama has the advantage. The president's job approval ratings are hovering in the upper 40 percent range, which suggests a close race.
When relationships go bad, an early warning sign is that one side doesn't really hear what the other is saying. That's certainly the case today in the relationship between voters and America's political class.
One hundred years ago, the European powers were hurtling down a path leading to World War I. Trench warfare became the dominant image of that war, as both sides dug in and the battle lines barely moved. Many called it the "War to End All Wars," but in the end it merely set the stage for World War II.
As the U.S. Supreme Court wrestles with the Obama administration's challenge of Arizona's crackdown on illegal immigration, the overall issue of immigration remains misunderstood by both political parties in Washington.
Just 49 percent of homeowners in America now believe their home is worth more than they paid for it.
Any doubt that Mitt Romney would win the Republican presidential nomination vanished when Rick Santorum left the race. It also marked the end of Romney's time as the defining figure in the overall contest for the White House.