Friday September 28, 2012

With President Barack Obama gaining a small but noticeable edge in the polls against his GOP rival Mitt Romney in the final weeks before the Nov. 6 election, two age-old expressions come to mind: Politics makes strange bedfellows, and the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

Obama’s uptick in the polls can be attributed to a number of factors. For example, Romney is still doing damage control following the release of that video in which he discounts 47 percent of voters because they don’t pay federal income taxes.

Plus, there’s been a jolt of optimism in the country as noted by the surge in consumer confidence, from 61.3 for August to 70.3 for September, as reported by the Conference Board on Tuesday. That’s the highest level since February. And a separate report showed home values rising steadily, signaling sustained improvement in housing.

But perhaps the greatest factor working in Obama’s favor is his new best friend, former President Bill Clinton. Well, maybe they’re not exactly close friends, but political pundits say the two have bonded over the shared experience of the presidency. And they’ve largely healed their divisions from the 2008 Democratic primary, when Obama defeated the former president’s wife.

Both are now working toward the shared goal of defeating Romney. And apparently the partnership has been working splendidly so far.

"It’s impossible to dispute the remarkably positive influence that the former president has had on the candidacy of the current occupant of the White House," the Washington Post wrote earlier this week. "Clinton’s soaring popularity Š as well as his demonstrated appeal to the political center and proven track record on the economy make him, without question, Obama’s top surrogate in this race.

"Clinton has given the economic argument forwarded by Obama a grounding in the real world, a sort of flesh-and-blood component that the incumbent struggled to conjure on his own for much of the year," the Post adds. "Clinton is the populist truth teller to Obama’s soaring rhetorician. It’s a yin and yang thing that has worked very, very well for Democrats of late."

Even Republicans acknowledge that they’ve lost ground in recent weeks, and not just in the presidential race. It’s also happening "down ballot" in the House and Senate races, according to the Post.

Of course, with almost six weeks remaining before the election, voters’ attitudes could easily shift back in the other direction. Stay tuned next week, especially on Wednesday when Obama and Romney debate for the first time, and on Friday when the September jobs report comes out.