How Super Tuesday Helps Obama

Photograph by Luke Sharrett/The New York Times/Redux

As anyone with access to a newspaper, cable television, or the Internet is well aware, today is Super Tuesday, possibly the decisive day in the GOP primary. But Republicans won’t have the spotlight to themselves. President Obama has decided to hold a press conference this afternoon, his first since November. Coincidence? Well, there was that big meeting with Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday. But a new Pew poll suggests that any contrast between Obama and the Republican candidates does the president a great deal of good.

The attacks on Mitt Romney by his Republican opponents have already helped Obama by damaging Romney’s standing with independent voters. This latest poll by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press and the Washington Post indicates that the toxic nature of the recent GOP debate—birth control, “sluts,” etc.—has driven many previously skeptical Democrats to rally around Obama. As Pew reports, “Currently, 49 percent of Democrats say that as they learn more about the GOP candidates, their impression of Obama is getting better. Just 36 percent of Democrats expressed this view in December, before the Republican primaries began.”

Democratic support was always likely to consolidate around Obama at some point before November. Unfortunately for Republicans, what’s happening now doesn’t appear to be a simple sorting out process in advance of the election. Pew notes that the views of Republican voters toward their own candidates have barely budged—and in fact have fallen slightly during that same period.

By holding a prominent event on a day when Republicans are certain to make news—the likelihood of “sore loser” attacks by Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum seems pretty high—Obama is injecting himself into the headlines and thereby highlighting what appears to be an advantageous contrast for him.

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