By CNN's Jack Cafferty:
Storm clouds are gathering for President Barack Obama.
The latest New York Times/CBS News poll shows Mitt Romney with a 1-point lead over Obama with 4% of voters undecided. And when asked about the economy, the difference is even more glaring. Romney holds an 8 percentage point lead over the president. Just 39% of those surveyed approve of the president's handling of the economy. That's down from 44% in April.
More bad news for the president:
In the crucial battleground of Virginia, Romney has closed a 12-point gap with Obama, and the two are now tied, according to the latest Quinnipiac University poll. In 2008, Obama became the first Democrat to win that state since 1964.
Suffice to say that if there is no significant improvement in the economy - and it better start soon - Obama could have problems in Virginia and elsewhere.
The jobs picture remains bleak. Unemployment has been above 8% for 41 consecutive months now. Forty-one months. This morning, first-time jobless claims jumped sharply - up 34,000 from the previous week.
A new Gallup Poll shows Americans overwhelmingly say creating "more or better jobs" is the most important thing the government can do to jump-start the economy. That’s why some of the president's words and actions aren't helping much.
Many took issue when Obama said, "If you've got a business, you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen."
Then there's the president's "jobs council." It hasn't even met for six months. The White House says Obama has "obviously got a lot on his plate" while Republicans suggest he's had time in the past six months to attend more than 100 fundraisers and play golf 10 times.
Here’s my question to you: Should the economy prevent President Obama from winning a second term?
Tune in to the Situation Room at 5pm to see if Jack reads your answer on air.
And, we love to know where you’re writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.
FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:
Barring some cataclysmic surprise as election day nears and people decide who they're going to vote for, it will likely come down to what it always comes down to - the answer to that eternal question: How am I doing?
In 2008 President Obama won by promising to change America.
And he has. Trouble is some people think he's changed it for the worse.
Mitt Romney remains pretty much an unknown, except for his time as governor of Massachusetts.
He wants lower taxes, fewer regulations, more defense spending, and an end to what he calls the "kick in the gut" of 8.2% unemployment.
The wild card for the winner of the presidential election is Congress.
The Democrats control the Senate. The Republicans control the House. And unless that changes, it's doubtful whoever wins is going to get much done.
But one thing's for certain: This is not the same country President Obama took over when he was inaugurated in January of 2009.
Our standard of living continues to decline and our National Debt has passed the point of no return
The middle class is rapidly disappearing and the hope that President Obama spoke of along with change is increasingly tough to come by.
The fact is the U.S. may have changed forever. And not for the better.
Here’s my question to you: What kind of "change" did President Obama deliver?
Tune in to the Situation Room at 4pm to see if Jack reads your answer on air.
President Obama and Congress get a big fat "D" when it comes to their handling of the economy.
CNNMoney asked 20 economists to grade our leaders, and both the president and Congress received "D" averages.
It's hard to imagine any other profession where you could perform at this level and keep your job.
These experts say Congress is more interested in scoring political points than in helping the economy. They're also worried about the so-called fiscal cliff and the looming disaster if Congress can't get its act together.
But Congress doesn't seem too worried about any of this. Bloomberg news reports that congressional leaders may delay the $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts until March. These cuts are scheduled to start in January.
At the same time they might temporarily extend income tax cuts and other tax breaks.
In other words, kick the can down the road some more without making any serious choices. That "D" grade is looking a little generous.
Meanwhile, ordinary Americans continue to suffer under the weak economy.
A new survey shows 28% of Americans have no emergency savings. Nothing. Zero.
The general rule of thumb is to have enough savings to cover at least six months of expenses. Only one in four people have that.
And just last week Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said he expects the unemployment rate to remain above 8% through the end of the year.
The real absurdity is Congress and the president will look at you with a straight face and tell you how they think they deserve to be re-elected.
Here’s my question to you: Economists give the president and Congress a "D" on the economy. How would you grade them?
Interested to know which ones made it on air?
Nearly half of Americans can't name President Obama's religion.
A new Gallup Poll shows only 34% of those surveyed correctly say that Obama is a Christian.
11% say he's a Muslim.
8% say Mr. Obama doesn't have a religious affiliation.
And a stunning 44% say they don't know what he is.
Where have these people been living?
President Obama has been in office for three and a half years and went through a grueling campaign to get there. A campaign during which his former minister, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and his controversial sermons played a key role.
It's just one more example of how uninformed many of us are.
Of course people who don't like the president continue to raise questions about both his religion and his birth place. And it seems that their efforts could be convincing – or at least confusing – some Americans.
The Gallup Poll also found a partisan gap here: Democrats are more likely than Republicans to correctly name the president's religion. In fact, 18% of Republicans say the president is a Muslim. That's nearly 1 in 5 Republicans.
The poll shows Independents are closer to Republicans than to Democrats when it comes to their knowledge of Obama's religion. That might not help the president in November.
Interestingly Americans are more likely to correctly name Mitt Romney's religion. Romney is a Mormon. Only 33% say they don't know that.
Some of that increased awareness when it comes to Romney is no doubt because he ran for president four years ago. A great deal was made of his being a Mormon back then.
Here’s my question to you: What does it mean if nearly half of Americans can't name President Obama's religion?
If the 2008 presidential race was an election on steroids, the 2012 presidential race might be on Quaaludes.
Let's face it: The Obama-Romney face-off is shaping up to be a real snooze.
To be fair, it's hard to compete with the excitement of 2008: the fight to the death between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, the historic nature of Obama's matchup with John McCain and the added wild card that was Sarah Palin.
This time around we had Mitt Romney battling a series of candidates who were hard to take seriously such as Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum. And now Romney seems poised to pick a vanilla vice president.
As for Obama, much of the hope and change has drained out of him after 3 1/2 years. Joe Biden's about the only interesting thing going for the Democratic ticket.
Critics slam both Obama and Romney for being elitists, aloof and out of touch with ordinary Americans. That's because they are.
Obama often comes off as an Ivy League professor and Romney as a rich businessman. All this makes it increasingly difficult for the public to gin up much enthusiasm for this contest.
Roger Simon has a hilarious piece in Politico about this boring race. He asks: Where's the fun?
"Where is the sheer heart-pounding, loin-stirring, thrill-going-up-the-leg tingle that is the hallmark of a U.S. presidential race?"
Simon points out that U.S. politics has always been entertaining - going back to George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.
He suggests some off-the-wall tickets that could bring excitement back to this race.
Like Hillary Clinton/Bill Clinton, Barack Obama/Michelle Obama and last but not least - John Edwards/Roger Clemens.
Simon writes the latter are both survivors who know how to win and how to game the system. The potential slogan: "You think we're liars? Takes one to know one."
Here’s my question to you: Why is Obama-Romney sooo boring?
If President Barack Obama went to a fortuneteller this week, he might ask for his money back.
In his Washington Post column titled "Pileup at the White House," Dana Milbank writes how Commerce Secretary John Bryson's weekend car crashes - and possible felony hit-and-run charge - are just the latest in a string of bad news for the president.
The list is long.
Stalled job growth, the Wisconsin recall defeat and Attorney General Eric Holder facing a contempt-of-Congress citation over lawmakers’ demands for documents in the "Fast and Furious" gunrunning investigation.
Bill Clinton contradicting the president, Mitt Romney raising more money, Congress squawking about national security leaks they say are coming from the White House and the president himself stupidly saying that the "private sector is doing fine." Really?
Milbank writes that all this adds up to one of the worst stretches of Obama's presidency: "There is a creeping sense that the bottom has fallen out and that there may be no second term."
Milbank says that top officials in the Obama administration privately say they are no longer expecting much economic improvement before the election.
Plus, there could be more bad news for Obama around the bend:
The Supreme Court is expected to rule any day now on the fate of the Affordable Care Act - widely known as “Obamacare” - as well as Arizona's controversial immigration law. Obama has a lot riding on both of these decisions.
With less than five months to go before the election, there's no doubt the president could use some good news.
Working in his favor is the fact that polls show voters like him and he has high favorability ratings, but that might not be enough to prevent him from his own car wreck come November 6.
Here’s my question to you: How much trouble is President Obama in?
As the race for the White House heats up, the candidates are hoping star power can help them raise the big bucks and boost voter enthusiasm.
But Republicans are slamming President Barack Obama - much like they did in 2008 - for his hobnobbing with Hollywood and celebrities.
Obama held New York fund-raisers this week with the theme “Barack on Broadway.” The star-studded events helped the president raise millions for his re-election coffers. On the way to New York, the president hosted rock star Jon Bon Jovi on Air Force One.
The president is due back in New York next week for another fund-raiser at the home of actress Sarah Jessica Parker.
This visit follows the much publicized dinner at the Los Angeles home of George Clooney, where the Obama campaign raked in $15 million. A recent campaign ad featured Vogue editor Anna Wintour, and folks such as Ricky Martin, Barbra Streisand and Spike Lee have appeared at other events for Obama.
The GOP whines about all this at length, saying it just proves the president is out of touch with ordinary Americans - many of them trying to find a job.
In some cases, the Obama campaign hopes it can use celebrities to target key voting blocs, such as women, gays or Hispanics.
And the president isn’t alone here, although Mitt Romney doesn't have the same following among celebrities. Romney's been hanging out at campaign events with folks such as Donald Trump, Kid Rock, Jon Voight and Ted Nugent. No doubt about it, the president has much better celebrities.
But the point is: How much do Americans suffering under a shaky economy and high unemployment care what celebrities have to say about politics? I know I don't.
Here’s my question to you: Do politicians who hang out with celebrities help or hurt themselves?
What a difference four years makes.
When Barack Obama ran for president against Hillary Clinton and John McCain in 2008, he was unstoppable.
He generated the kind of excitement and enthusiasm among voters that is rarely seen in politics. People couldn't get enough of him and his messages of hope, change and "yes, we can."
Four years later, a lot of that optimism and excitement are gone.
"How the mighty have fallen" is how Maureen Dowd describes it in her New York Times column headlined "Dreaming of a Superhero."
"The president who started off with such dazzle now seems incapable of stimulating either the economy or the voters,” she wrote.
The economy remains weak. Friday's dismal jobs report triggered a selloff, and the stock market has now erased all its gains for the year.
As for the voters, a lot of them are disgruntled – including many in the president's own base.
A Forbes column describes how Obama is being left behind by the left wing of his party.
They're frustrated that the president hasn't followed through on key promises like closing Guantanamo Bay, ending the war in Afghanistan or getting tough on Wall Street.
There are anti-Obama e-mails coming from the left that describe a "psychopathic megalomaniac" in the White House and "a cancer in the presidency" – and these are liberals.
Part of this is due to the ugly reality of governing. But you can even see it in the president's campaign events.
There were more than 4,000 empty seats in an Ohio arena that seats 18,000 when the president officially launched his re-election campaign.
That wouldn't have happened four years ago.
Here’s my question to you: When it comes to President Obama, what happened to the magic of 2008?
Right on the heels of Memorial Day comes a strong suggestion that President Barack Obama could have problems with military veterans in November.
A new Gallup Poll shows that veterans support Mitt Romney over Obama by a whopping 24 points - 58% to 34%.
Veterans make up about 13% of the population as well as almost a quarter of adult men. Pollsters say this large edge among veterans is a big reason why Romney leads among men overall.
Historically, Republican presidential candidates do better among veterans than Democrats. Both George W. Bush and John McCain carried the veteran vote, but Obama won veterans under 60 in the last election.
It's worth pointing out that another poll this month found the president leading Romney among veterans 44% to 37%.
Meanwhile, both Romney and Obama saluted the troops over the Memorial Day weekend.
The president honored the veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and those who "loved their country enough to sacrifice their own lives for it."
He talked about the importance of providing health care, benefits and education for veterans. His campaign has been highlighting the killing of Osama bin Laden, the end of the Iraq war and the push to wind down the Afghanistan war.
Romney addressed global threats at an event with Sen. John McCain. "I wish I could tell you that the world is a safe place today," Romney said, telling veterans that the United States must remain the world's top military power.
This year is the first election since World War II without a major candidate who is a veteran. And it's clear both men realize the power of this voting bloc.
Here’s my question to you: What does it mean if Mitt Romney leads President Obama by 24 points among veterans?
Joe Biden's recent gay marriage gaffe is only the latest example of the vice president stepping in it.
And some are starting to openly wonder if Biden is the best running mate for President Obama in what is shaping up to be a close contest against Mitt Romney.
Republicans are making a strategy of targeting Biden, following him closely on the campaign trail in the hopes that he slips up.
A source close to Romney tells Politico that Biden is "a ticking time bomb. Who the hell knows what he's going to say?"
And another Republican describes the veep as "the chink in the armor" - someone likely to commit unforced errors.
Biden's off-script moments are legendary, from describing then-candidate Obama as "clean" and "articulate" in an interview to calling Obama’s health care reform a "big f***ing deal" on mic.
But Democrats insist Biden is the best surrogate for the president. He connects with working class voters in a way that the sometimes aloof president can't.
Also, Biden is a great attack dog who goes after Romney in a way Obama might not want to. Just yesterday Biden said Romney's time in private equity didn't qualify him for the White House any more than being a plumber would. Gotta love it.
Meanwhile if you listen carefully, the calls for a Vice President Hillary Clinton keep getting louder.
Clinton's approval numbers are through the roof, and some suggest that with Romney closing the gender gap and gaining among women, Obama should dump Biden for Clinton on the ticket.
It seems like a remote possibility, but stranger things have happened in politics.
Here’s my question to you: Joe Biden: asset or liability for President Obama?
Jack Cafferty sounds off hourly on the Situation Room on the stories crossing his radar. Now, you can check in with Jack online to see what he's thinking and weigh in with your own comments online and on TV.
About Jack Cafferty
Subscribe | Send Feedback