Likewise, there are two statistical measurements that, more than anything else, will determine whether the White House changes parties in 2016: Obama’s job approval and the direction of the country, measured by whether voters think we’re on the right track or the wrong track.
In terms of job approval, Obama has been under 50 percent for most of his presidency. The most recent Real Clear Politics monthly polling average says just 45 percent of Americans approve of the job Obama has been doing, while 52 percent disapprove. If the president remains net negative, voters should expect to hear a lot from Republicans on how the Democratic nominee is really running for Obama’s third term.
The Real Clear Politics average also says 64 percent of all voters think the country is on the wrong track. Only 27 percent believe we are headed in the right direction. As with job approval, if this number stays inverted, it’s going to be difficult for a Democrat to win no matter what.
The only question is which Republican will reap the benefits.
Those are some of the “fundamentals” I mentioned in that earlier post. Another is just plain fatigue. Electing candidates of the same party to the White House three times in a row is the exception rather than the rule and I just don’t think that the economy is strong enough to buoy Democrats to a wave.
Intervening events matter. If we’re in recession in the third quarter of 2016 and there are terrorist attacks being carried out in Europe once a week (or, heavens forfend, here) the rhetoric that some of the Republican candidates are dishing out won’t seem quite so nutty.