The band plays on, doesn't it? Last month's dismal jobs reports were followed by reports of dismal GDP growth.
The White House predicts this year's federal budget deficit will end up at $1.2 trillion, marking the fourth consecutive year of trillion dollar-plus deficits during President Barack Obama's administration.
The bleak figures, while expected, are sure to add fuel to the already heated presidential campaign, in which Obama's handling of the economy and the budget is a main topic. Friday's release came as the government announced that U.S. economic growth slowed to an annual rate of just 1.5 percent in the second quarter of this year, as consumers cut back sharply on spending.
Well, at least something is growing robustly, even if it's the public debt. On that note, let's take a look at the polls.
The RCP average gives Obama a lead nationally of 1.1%. That's an average of seven polls. Obama's best showing is the NBC poll, which gives him a lead of six points (49-43%). Romney's best showing is the Rasmussen poll, which gives Romney a lead of 5 points (49-44%). Gallup has it tied 46% each.
Gallup has a very large sample, reports a five day average, and has been using the same methodology all year. That filters out most of the noise over time. It does, however, sample registered voters. Rasmussen has fairly large samples over two days, and filters for likely voters.
The only other poll to target likely voters is NPR, which gives Obama a two point lead. NPR's sample is 36% Democrat, 31% independent, and 29% Republican. That assumes that Democrats will enjoy a turnout advantage over Republicans of 7%.
That is as great as 2008 and is considerably larger than the trend of the last 25 years. Indeed, it is larger than the percentage of registered voters identifying as Democrats in all but one major poll. This comes at a time when Republicans enjoy a pronounced advantage in enthusiasm, as I noted in the last post. The only reason to assume such an advantage is that one doesn't want to confirm the Rasmussen results.
The race is somewhere between a dead heat and a two or three point Romney lead. If the election were held today, Romney would win.