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Can Obama recover from his 'horrible, no-good' week?

President Obama's bad week included weak jobs numbers, the Wisconsin recall vote, less-than-helpful comments by Bill Clinton, and his own verbal gaffe. Obama has the edge in most polls, but there could be more bad weeks between now and the presidential election.

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"An incumbent wants to be talking about how wonderful things are, not how he's trying to turn things around," Brad Coker, managing director of Mason-Dixon Polling & Research, told McClatchy News. "It may not be his fault, but people don't think that way. They just know that bills are going up, income is down."

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"He set the bar high and he's playing up against the expectations game," Mr. Coker said. "At this point in the game, I think Romney is going to have to make a big mistake for Obama to recover."

Still, the election is not necessarily Romney’s to lose, warns Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, a well-respected, moderate Republican many had hoped would seek the presidency this year.

“The American people will rightly demand to know something more than he’s not President Obama,” Gov. Daniels said on Fox News Sunday. “He’s got to use this fall as an opportunity to build a consensus across a broad spectrum of Americans.... He better have an affirmative, constructive message.”

Polls show the election close, but Obama still has the edge, according to recent voter surveys.

Three recent polls (Gallup, Rasmussen, and Fox News) show Obama very near the critical 50 percent mark on public approval. Meanwhile, Congress’ approval rate dwindles below 20 percent – useful to the Obama campaign if it intends (like Harry Truman in 1948) to run against a “do-nothing” Congress.

Looking at a wide range of national and state polls, analyst Nate Silver of the FiveThirtyEight blog at the New York Times gives Obama an 80 percent chance of winning if the election were held today.

“However, the outlook for the Nov. 6 election is much less certain, with Mr. Obama having winning odds of just over 60 percent,” Mr. Silver writes. “The forecast currently calls for Mr. Obama to win roughly 290 electoral votes, but outcomes ranging everywhere from about 160 to 390 electoral votes are plausible, given the long lead time until the election and the amount of news that could occur between now and then.”

Any major gaffes between now and Election Day – by either Obama or Romney – could tip the results.

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