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Forward? Out of the White House

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The GDP slid backward for the second quarter of 2012.  According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis economic growth was a near stagnant 1.5% which is down from 2.0% for the first quarter of 2012 – which was less than half the 4.1% for the fourth quarter of 2011. 

Economists generally believe growth below 2.0% is insufficient to grow jobs.

Three weeks ago, Barack Obama tried to spin a horrible June jobs report as "a step in the right direction."   He made that ridiculous claim even though the workforce population increased during the month at twice the rate of new job growth. 

Today's terrible GDP report should really prompt a "step in the right direction" – a big step out of the White House for Barack Obama in November.

In times like this, a good day for Barack Obama is anytime the dominant topic of discussion is anything but the economy.   But, make no mistake about it; November's election is still going to be a referendum on the President's failed economic policies.

With the economy overwhelmingly the dominant issue in the election, there is growing bad news for the President.  By more than 2:1, 63% to 29%, voters now believe Mitt Romney would be better at managing the economy than President Obama, according to a new USA TODAY/Gallup poll.   

For the first time Mitt Romney has topped Barack Obama in the New York Times/CBS poll (47:46).  Rasmussen has Romney up by 3 points (46:43).  After a month of carpet bombing Romney with negative ads, the President has actually lost ground.  According to the Real Clear Politics average of all polls between July 5 and July 22, Obama's 3.7 point advantage on June 27 has shriveled to just 1.1.  Importantly, the trend is solidly in Romney's favor even as Obama is outspending him 2:1. 

The NYT/CBS poll uncovered more problems for the President.  By a margin of 55:39 voters disapprove of Obama's handling of the economy; a significant difference from the 44:48 results in April. 

Further, the once-believed impervious favorability ratings of the President have started to erode.   Barely a third of voters, just 36%, now have a favorable opinion of Obama, down from 42% in April.

For a while Obama appeared to be getting away with deflecting blame for the dismal economic performance, but those days appear to be going the way of his falling favorability ratings.  A new poll conducted by The Hill found 66% of voters point the finger at "bad policy" from Washington for the weak economy.  Obama gets most of the blame, 34%, while 23% blame Congress.  Wall Street is the heart of the problem according to another 23%.  Just 18% agree with the President – that it's George W. Bush's fault.

While Team Obama's attempt to make Romney the bogey man seems to be falling flat, the dismal economic data continues to drag Obama down.  Recent headlines underscore the reasons for the deteriorating confidence in Obama and his policies found in the results of the new polling data:

New jobless claims jumped sharply last week to 386,000 (Los Angeles Times)

New claims for unemployment benefits rose sharply last week to 386,000, the biggest jump in more than a year as the labor market continued to show signs of struggling amid the weakening recovery.

US poverty on track to reach 46-year high; suburbs, underemployed workers, children hit hard (Washington Post)

The ranks of America’s poor are on track to climb to levels unseen in nearly half a century, erasing gains from the war on poverty in the 1960s amid a weak economy and fraying government safety net.

Sales Gains Scarce As Economy Slows At Home, Abroad (Investor's Business Daily)

Analysts now expect sales to grow just 1%, which would be the lowest rate since Q3 2009, just as the U.S. exited recession. Analysts expect 5.9% profit growth, also the weakest since Q3 2009. 

Most US states trail pre-recession jobs levels (Associated Press)

Three years since the recession ended, 43 states have yet to regain the jobs they lost in the downturn. The figure is a reminder of how weak the nation's job market remains.

Earnings Show Recession May Be 'Fast Approaching' (CNBC.com)

"Revenue estimates for the back half of 2012 have been slowly working their way lower this year," Colas said. "This trend, however, has accelerated to the downside over the past 30 days and we are fast approaching levels where these estimates are unambiguously pointing to the risk of a U.S./global recession later into 2012 and 2013."

With more dismal reports published literally every day, it is understandable why Barack Obama would love for this election to be about anything but the economy.  But, it won't be.  As Romney said in April, "It's still about the economy, and we're not stupid."  It looks like voters are starting to make up their minds.  

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