by Ken Feltman and Louis-Lyonel Voiron
We have received questions about the President’s handling of the BP oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico. Is the oil disaster President Obama’s Katrina? The answer is no.
First, Katrina came during a period of public questioning of President Bush’s (largely self-proclaimed) management skills. Katrina was the last straw.
The oil leak is more like President Carter’s analytical and slowly evolving reaction to the Iranian hostage crisis. Carter was soon crippled by indecision over how to resolve the crisis. Obama may soon be overwhelmed by his (and BP’s) inability to plug the leak.
Previously, we have rated Obama as a clear favorite for reelection in 2012, especially if the Republicans take control of both Houses of Congress in November. GOP control would give Obama a target and the Republicans would share enough blame that Obama – with a lower profile – would be favored.
With the Administration’s failure to recognize the dangers that the oil leak presented, plus the bad luck of BP being unable to plug the leak, Obama now is rated as likely to be a one-term president. His unemotional handling of his press conference, while in keeping with the “No Drama” Obama style, will cost him centrists votes. Independent voters tend to like leaders who “feel the pain” (President Clinton’s empathizing personality isolated him from partisan attacks).
Suddenly, Republicans will realize that the GOP nomination in 2012 is a prize worth having. Watch for Senator Thune (S.D.) to begin to raise his visibility. That will be the signal that Republicans think they can win in 2012, regardless of the 2010 mid-term results.
Radnor still believes that the GOP will fall short of taking over either the Senate or the House this fall.