President Obama has caught a couple of breaks after a bad few weeks in which he lost ground to Republican opponent Mitt Romney.
Last Friday, the president announced a new immigration policy that would accomplish some of the same things as the DREAM Act–had it been passed by Congress. That got him back on the right foot with Hispanic voters, who had lost enthusiasm over the administration’s large number of deportations, and put Romney on the defensive.
And this week, gasoline prices fell under $3.50 a gallon nationwide as West Texas Intermediate crude oil dropped below $80 a barrel. Gasoline prices have plunged by nearly 50 cents a gallon from their April peak, to the great relief of consumers, and they could fall below $3.00 by election day.
The president would welcome that, of course. But there’s a down side to lower gas prices—they’re the result of excess supply caused by lack of demand in a very weak economy. Europe is a big problem, of course, but China is slowing down, too. And the US economy is vulnerable to what happens elsewhere.
So, here are some potential trouble spots for the president.
Weak jobs reports. There are three jobs reports between now and the end of the Democratic National Convention in September, and if the last two were any indication, there could be a drumbeat of bad—or at best, disappointing–news on the president’s most vulnerable front, undercutting the president’s case for re-election.
A meltdown in Greece or anywhere else in Europe. A new Greek government has been formed by New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras, but European officials are divided over whether to make concessions or, as some German politicians believe, insist Greece live up to the terms of a recent bailout deal. Samaras has little wiggle room, and his government could easily collapse—especially in the face of leftist opposition Syriza. If that happens, look out below.
Money raising. Romney outraised the president for the first time last month, and Super PACs that support the former Massachusetts governor are just gearing up as billionaires begin to write big checks. Joshua Green in Bloomberg BusinessWeek reports the Obama campaign may be outspent three to one, a shocking development and the exact opposite of the advantage then-Sen. Obama had over Sen. John McCain in 2008.
Israel attacks Iran. An Israeli attack has been off the table for a while, but it’s a very real possibility. Talks between Iran and the five leading powers over its nuclear program recently broke down, and tougher sanctions from the European Union will kick in July 1st. Will that bring Iran back to the bargaining table? Who knows? But Israel may run out of patience and try to solve the problem itself. Any Israeli attack would send oil and gasoline prices soaring and make the world under President Obama look more insecure, which Mitt Romney could use to undercut a strong point in the president’s record.