Over the past few days Republican journalists and bloggers have been celebrating a recent poll published in The Hill. However, about the only thing for Republicans to celebrate is the headline: "The Hill Poll: Voters blame president most for slow economic recovery."
The actual text of the article paints a very bleak picture for the GOP. Yes, it's true that more voters blame President Obama than anybody else (although even that does not apply to the crucial block of centrist voters). But only 34 percent of all voters say Obama is the most to blame. To put this number in context, we need to remember that 46 percent voted for McCain in 2008, at least as many voters plan to vote for Romney according to virtually all polls, and in fact no major party candidate since 1984 has failed to get at least 45 percent of the two-party share of the popular vote. So another way to write that headline would be "Millions of Republican voters do not blame Obama most for slow economic recovery." And this is very bad news for Romney who has based his entire campaign on blaming Obama for the slow recovery.
But that's not all. Down in the twelfth paragraph of the story we see this nugget: "Fifty-seven percent of voters said congressional Republicans have impeded the recovery with their policies, and only 30 percent overall believe the GOP has done the right things to boost the economy." In other words, at least a third of Republican voters are not willing to defend the actions of the House GOP! And it's even worse among centrist voters: "Seventy-nine percent of centrist voters said Republicans had slowed the economy by taking wrong actions. Only 13 percent of centrists credited GOP lawmakers with policies that have helped the economy."
This is absolutely devastating. Especially given that the Obama campaign has not even started a sustained attack against congressional Republicans. Imagine how the numbers will look after the president spends millions of dollars running TV ads juxtaposing Paul Ryan's statement on CNBC that defaulting on national debt might actually be a good thing with a chart of monthly job creation numbers before and after.
Of course, this poll is a bad omen for Speaker Boehner. But it is also not a good sign for Mitt Romney. He is perceived by many voters as too spineless. And Grover Norquist (a controversial figure even among conservatives) confidently predicted that Mitt Romney would do as he is told by congressional Republicans and basically just serve as a rubber stamp for Paul Ryan's budgets. It will not be too difficult for the Obama campaign to hang deeply unpopular Republican-controlled House around Romney's neck.
Mitt Romney desperately needs a Sister Souljah moment to distance himself from the most unpopular parts of his coalition. He missed a perfect one when Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) broke the House rules and all norms of decency by falsely accusing some 80 Democratic Congressmen of being card-carrying members of the Communist Party. Romney should have demanded West's resignation. He did not. And when a couple weeks ago a voter at a town hall meeting made a pitch for Romney to make Allen West his running mate, Romney merely replied, "All suggestions are welcome."
The clock is ticking. Mitt Romney needs to take a hard look at The Hill poll and other similar polls and decide what he has to do to show voters that he is his own man. Quickly. In a few short weeks it will be too late.