Axelrod Shuns Focus on Obama Approval Ratings, ‘As If They Existed in a Black Box’

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Despite a relentless tide of bad polling data in recent weeks, President Obama and his re-election team remain defiantly confident the numbers don’t add up to 2012 doom.

Senior campaign strategist David Axelrod, in the first of a series of memos to “Sunday Show Producers,” says the fixation on Obama’s tumbling approval ratings, “as if they existed in a black box,” ignores other indicators that temper the negative picture.

“Following the intransigence of the Republicans during the debt debate, the approval rating of the GOP brand dropped to a historic low,” Axelrod says. “The approval rating of Congress dropped to a near-historic low.”

A new New York Times-CBS poll found 19 percent of Americans approve of the Republican Party compared to 28 percent approval of Democrats. Only 12 percent of voters said they approve of Congress.

“There’s no doubt that Americans are calling on leaders in Washington to take immediate action to address their economic challenges, exactly what the president is advocating for,” Axelrod says.

The Obama campaign believes that tying the eventual Republican nominee to an intransigent Congress, and the Tea Party, of which a majority of Americans also disapprove, will help keep him afloat, regardless of any waning enthusiasm for the president.

“Despite the Republican candidates just beginning to undergo the media scrutiny that occurs during a presidential campaign, from North Carolina to Nevada, the president remains ahead or in a dead heat with the Republican candidates in the battleground states that will decide the election in 2012,” Axelrod says.

“And ultimately it is in those battleground states where voters will choose, 14 months from now, between two candidates, their records, and their visions for the country.”

Axelrod’s point — that voters do not yet have a clear choice of alternative to Obama — will likely persist for several more months, however.  Only when the Republican nominee comes into focus can the real comparison between candidates, and the test of Obama’s strategy, truly begin.

Meanwhile, Obama believes he’s in a good position to win.

“Here’s one thing I know for certain,” Obama said Thursday night. “The odds of me being re-elected are much higher than the odds of me being elected in the first place.”

Read the full Axelrod memo HERE.