It may sound contradictory, but Barack Obama's 1.9 per cent lead over Mitt Romney in the coming November presidential election is matched by 1.8 per cent more people who disapprove of the job he's dong, than those who approve of it.
Although most black voters will overwhelmingly support him come Nov. 6, it's unlikely he'll get the numbers he did in 2008, when hope, enthusiasm, confidence and a desire for "change" reigned supreme.
In the 2008 election, Republican John McCain got five per cent of the black vote. Romney is said to be hoping for 11 per cent in November -- enough to make a difference. Hence his recent foray into the liberal waters of the NAACP in Texas to deliver his message.
Since the rampant optimism expounded by Obama in 2008, everything seems to have mitigated against him. The only achievement of his administration is Obamacare, and it is in some disrepute despite the Supreme Court's ruling that mandatory payment of health insurance is not a matter of choice, but a "tax."
A flat or descending economy doesn't bode well for a sitting president.
As for Romney, his pitch to the NAACP invoked more boos than cheers. He knew he'd get the raspberry, but plunged ahead anyway.
To his credit, to didn't soften pedal or twist his message to pander to African American, but said to them what he's been saying all along -- that America (and people of colour) will do better with him as Prez, than it has done, or will do, with more of Obama.
It's not what his audience wanted to hear, but with many it must have registered. African Americans are suffering economically these days, as are all Americans. Everyone wants a job, but jobs are not blossoming -- and forget about jobs the government says it created.
Those kind of jobs are not productive, but payoff jobs. The only jobs that add to the economy are those that produce returns: private enterprise or entrepreneurial jobs. New businesses, big or small, that require employees and produce sales.
Obama gets applause when he trashes the rich -- promises to make the rich pay higher taxes. Reality is that in a democracy you can never "get" the rich. Raise taxes too high, and those with money will invest elsewhere.
As Margaret Thatcher noted when she was Britain's PM, liberals and socialists often seem more intent at punishing the rich than they are at raising the incomes of the poor. In a thriving economy, when the rich get richer -- so do the un-rich. The workers.
While a sitting president always has an advantage over a contender, and while overall polls show Obama with an edge on Romney, a survey of America's "independent" voters indicates huge disillusionment in Obama.
His support among independents has plummeted, where in 2008 they put him over the top. If this trend holds true, the likelihood of a Republican president in November increases dramatically.
To many who once had great expectations for the Obama presidency, there is disappointment if not disillusion. Apart from innumerable celebrity fund-raisers and Holidays, Obama seems out of his depth in running or inspiring the country.
The Washington Post's Charles Krauthammer notes: "The Republican presidential campaign centres on the ineffectiveness of this administration: failure at home, passivity abroad...As citizens we should be grateful. Given the administration's extravagant ambitions, incompetence is its saving grace."