Despite President Obama's numerous challenges on the economic front and Mitt Romney's numerous gaffes on foreign and domestic policy (or maybe because of all of them) the presidential race remains as close as ever according to the latest Gallup tracking poll in which the Republican candidate trails Obama by just one point nationally -- 47% to 46%.
However, the survey was taken before Romney's secretly recorded "47%" comments from a May private Florida fundraiser surfaced on the internet. The former governor of Massachusetts said that 47% of Americans were dependent on the government and "it's not my job to worry about these people" who are probably going to vote for the president "no matter what."
Gallup's survey also indicates that President Obama's 6-point post DNC bounce has evaporated, at least at the national level. This results, coupled with another poll by Republican-leaning Rasmussen, that puts Romney two points ahead of the president, suggests that after both parties' national conventions and a week in which both candidates were confronted by the sudden crisis in the Middle East -- with the Obama administration facing the death of an American ambassador in Libya and the Romney campaign tripping over itself with its reaction -- the race remains where it always has been: a pretty closed contest. This is good and bad new for both candidates.
Despite possessing the advantage of a still weak economy and unemployment above 8%, Romney has been unable to shake off the image of corporate raider that Democratic political consultants have successfully defined him with, effectively turning one of Romney's biggest strengths -- his private sector experience -- into a weakness. Though polls don't reflect yet the effect that Romney's clumsy "47%" comments have had on his campaign (if any), the Republican nominee could use the gaffe as an opportunity to show some core once and for all, and standing by a conservative opinion that -- polls say -- most Americans agree with.
Similarly, President Obama still faces a dismal August job reports showing that just 96,000 jobs were added while 368,000 stopped looking for work. The economy remains the number one issue and, since Romney still holds some significant advantages on this particular topic, the president has his work cut out for him to demonstrate American voters that he has a plan to accelerate recovery during a potential second term. As for the president's advantage, he could repeat what he played in 2008 when then Republican presidential candidate John McCain suspended his campaign "to deal with the economic crisis" while then Senator Obama showed a steady hand. There is a point to be made by the Obama that his 2012 Republican challenger has been erratic when responding to the events that unfolded during the last couple of weeks.