With the general election campaign now unofficially started a string of new national polls shows a close race between President Obama and Mitt Romney. A CBS News/NYT poll has the race completely tied. From CBS News:

Mr. Obama and Romney each received support from 46 percent of registered voters when asked who they would vote for if the election were held today. In March, a CBS News/New York Times survey found that Mr. Obama held a slight advantage over Romney of 47 percent to 44 percent.

While some polls like the Gallup daily tracking poll have Romney up by several points and others like  Pew Research have Obama leading by a few points, the average of all the recent polling has the race neck and neck. The Real Clear Politics average has Obama leading by just 1.6 points at this moment, eight months out from the election.

There are also signs that Romney’s historically bad favorablity numbers have improved somewhat as a result of the GOP primary ending, but Romney still remains a rather unliked and uninspiring nominee.

The fact that a rather unimpressive candidate is within striking distance of unseating an incumbent president should highlight Obama’s single biggest problem: after more than three years the economy is still awful.

If anyone had told me in late 2008 that official unemployment would still be over 8 percent in 2012, I would have found such a prediction too shocking and horrible to believe. As a society we have become almost numb to bad economic news, as if we’ve grown to accept the poor state of the economy.  But the reality is the economy is still horrible for too many people, and it has been horrible during Obama’s entire tenure. There is no good way to spin failing on the voter’s top priority.