Free Markets, Free People
This week, the podcast is 1:07, but, really, the last fifteen minutes or so is such an arcane discussion of GDP calculations that it’s probably unlistenable. But, first we discuss Benghazi and the recent poll that shows 29% of Americans think they may need to grab a rifle and head off into the hills to raise an in the next few years.
The direct link to the podcast can be found here.
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A majority of voters believe the country is worse off today than it was four years ago and that President Obama does not deserve reelection, according to a new poll for The Hill.
Fifty-two percent of likely voters say the nation is in “worse condition” now than in September 2008, while 54 percent say Obama does not deserve reelection based solely on his job performance.
Only 31 percent of voters believe the nation is in “better condition,” while 15 percent say it is “about the same,” the poll found. Just 40 percent of voters said Obama deserves reelection.
Key word above? “Likely” voters.
The poll sort of echoes Eastwood’s words about what you do with someone not performing, doesn’t it? And, finally, the president is faced with actually earning something … or not. Apparently it’s “or not”.
Prepare for spin city this week as Democrats meet to try to salvage this presidency and frame the GOP as the equivalent of Nazi Germany, Stalinist Russia and Pol Pot’s Cambodia all rolled into one. And don’t be surprised if Idi Amin gets a mention as well.
But they’ll be civil about it.
Sure they will.
Oh, and before I forget … one other indicator. Reports have it that the Romney campaign raised $100 million in August. That ought to help set the right tone for the DNC.
So the question of the week is can the DNC via Obama reignite the “magic” of 2008 in dispirited voters?
Charlie Cook, the dean of Democratic strategists, takes a look at three demographic groups critical to Obama’s 7 point margin of victory in in 2008. While he finds one of the groups, African-Americans, still with Obama in numbers similar to 2008, two other groups are not at all showing the same enthusiasm they had then. They are voters 18-29 and Latinos. Obama leads comfortably in both demographics. However, the question is, will they vote in the numbers necessary to push Obama over the edge.
Cook says it doesn’t appear so.
In each case, the percentage who say they will definitely vote is significantly lower than it is among other demographic groups who view Obama less charitably.
Groups among those who see Obama “less charitably”, as Cook puts it, includes seniors (65 and older):
Voters ages 65 and older favor Romney by a 15-point margin, 54 percent to 39 percent, and 86 percent of those in that oldest cohort say they definitely plan to vote, compared with just 61 percent of those ages 18-29. Romney has a statistically insignificant 1-point edge (46 percent to 45 percent) among those 30 to 49 years of age, but 80 percent of them say they will definitely vote. Among the 50-to-64 age group, Romney leads by 3 points, 48 percent to 45 percent, with 86 percent of that cohort saying they will definitely vote.
Cook believes it is a matter of enthusiasm, or lack thereof:
But the study also found “consistent evidence that President Obama’s 2008 first-time voters are less supportive than other Obama voters, reflecting a decline in enthusiasm among a key voting bloc in the 2012 elections.”
Note, both polls are those of “registered voters”, however, the point is clear – enthusiasm for Obama isn’t at all near the fever pitch it was in 2008 and experts like Cook know that. As he says, there’s “consistent” evidence Obama’s support among those groups has eroded when it comes to enthusiasm. Cook also knows what has to happen for Obama to again grab the edge and win. How critical is the Democratic convention to that?
Very. It is there the spark needs to be lit again, where a message that resonates and energizes the same demographic groups that put him over the line last time.
Will it happen? Well that’s the “big question”.
And behind all these problems isn’t the “war on women”, “race” or “inequality”. It’s the economy. If, in fact, the Democrats concentrate on the diversion of the first three, the likelihood of them reenergizing their voters isn’t high. It may, however, even further energize the other side.
So you may see them tip-toe around mentions of the economy and attempt to push it off on Bush again. They’re already trying out “the Bush recession”, “the Bush economy”, etc. That’s unlikely to impress many (most polls have indicated that voters think, after 3 years, Obama owns the economy now), but it’s about all they have in that arena.
Of the two conventions, the DNC is likely to be the more interesting of the two by a long shot.
Pay attention to this because it is important:
The portion of Americans who say they believe the U.S. is on the wrong track is higher than it was at any point during Ronald Reagan’s presidency, when unemployment peaked at 10.8 percent after the 1981-82 recession, according to an ABC News/Washington Post poll. The ABC poll showed the wrong-track number during Reagan’s first term peaking at 57 percent in October 1982. The Bloomberg poll shows 66 percent of Americans think the U.S. is going in the wrong direction now.
This is the number I continue to talk about because to me it is the truest indication of the mood of the country. The mood is obviously critical to the re-election, and wrong track polling has consistently indicated the way previous elections are going to go. There is a threshold that portends bad news for the incumbent, and we’re well past that. The question is, will it stay there? The answer seems to be, by all indications and forecasts, yes.
As the public grasps for solutions, the Republican Party is breaking through in the message war on the budget and economy. A majority of Americans say job growth would best be revived with prescriptions favored by the party: cuts in government spending and taxes, the Bloomberg Poll shows. Even 40 percent of Democrats share that view.
This should be something every GOP politician should have tattooed on his or her inner eyelid to help them focus. Concentrate on the message about the economy – it’s a winner. Wander off into wedge issues and you give your opponent an opening and a way to distract the public. If you do that you deserve to lose.
Perception is reality in politics. I’m not sure how many times we’ve made that point on this blog. And the perception among those out in flyover country is the stimulus package being pushed by the Democrats is a turkey. Or a pig. Or both. Regardless of which animal reference you choose to use, the fact is most Americans don’t think it will work. As further proof of that point, take a look at the latest ATI-News/Zogby results:
Question #1: ATI-News/Zogby asked likely voters, “Some people say that the nearly one trillion dollars in debt and subsequent interest incurred by the stimulus bill during an economic downturn will make the recovery hard to achieve. Do you agree or disagree?”
Overall, 53 percent of Americans agree that the Obama stimulus bill will actually hinder economic recovery; while only 31 percent disagree (16 percent are not sure). Fifty-six percent of Independent voters also agree, while only 27 percent disagree (17 percent are not sure). A staggering 88 percent of Republicans agree and just 6 percent disagree (another 6 percent are not sure).
Frankly, when looking at these polls, I expect the majority of Democrats polled to support Democratic policy and the majority of Republicans not to support it. I key on self-identified independents who have the luxury of going whichever way they choose to go on each policy question. And in the case of this issue, independents are not at all impressed with it. So while President Obama’s personal approval ratings remain high (and that should come as no real surprise this early in his presidency), he’s not been able to convincingly sell this mess to a majority of Americans.
Question #2: ATI-News/Zogby asked voters, “Some Republicans say the Obama stimulus package spends too much and stimulates too little. Do you agree or disagree?”
Fifty-seven percent of Independent voters agree that Obama’s stimulus package spends too much and does little to stimulate the economy; while just 31 percent of Independents disagree (12 percent are not sure). Eighty-nine percent of Republicans also agree, while only 5 percent disagree (6 percent are not sure).
Of importance here is a majority of independents are agreeing with Republicans on the issue. That lays the responsiblity for the bill squarely in the lap of the Democrats. Of course that’s a double-edged sword for Republicans on the off chance this bill somehow succeeds. But if I were giving odds, I’d go 80/20 against.
Question #3: ATI-News/Zogby asked voters, “Most Republicans oppose the currently proposed stimulus bill supported by President Obama because they say there is too much money being spent for non-stimulus items. Do you agree or disagree that too much money is being spent on items that won’t improve the economy?”
Sixty-six percent of Independent voters think Obama wants to spend too much money on items that won’t improve the economy. As for Republicans, a staggering 93 percent agree.
Across the board, the poll found that, on average, 90 percent of Republicans and 60 percent of Independents disapprove of Obama’s stimulus bill.
The answer to this particular question shows the sharpest split and the largest majority of independents against the Obama bill. That sort of percentage means despite all the TV appearances, town hall meetings and press conferences, the message Obama has been putting out there has been rejected.
That means that Republicans have been at least partially successful in framing the debate. Of course they’ve been helped by the common sense argument that you can’t cure a problem brought on by borrowing and spending with more massive borrowing and spending. Somewhere, as the public knows and many have experienced, we have to pay up. The public has also had enough experience with government programs to know they’re never speedy, they’re wasteful and they’re poorly monitored. My guess is what you see reflected in those independent numbers is a healthy dose of both skepticism and mistrust.
As the details of this bill have become public, the claim that there’s ‘no pork’ in it has been resoundingly rejected. The spin has not been effective and the public perceives this all as “business as usual” among Congress and Democrats. And it also isn’t helping the Obama image. Many now think he got rolled by Democratic leaders in Congress and, instead of displaying leadership, is now their front-guy trying to leverage his popularity into a win for this massive mess of a bill.
I still think the bill will pass in some form or fashion. But one thing I think is certain. Obama’s honeymoon was a short one and is now over. And I’m also of the opinion that he’ll never again be trusted by independents as the agent for “hope” and “change” in Washington DC. To them, in the future, those will be “just words”.