As I’ve noted any number of times, there are polls which mean nothing (such as polls this far out comparing an incumbent president and GOP nominees) and there are those what present indicators or trends that give one insight into the prevailing mood of voters or the like.
The Hill produced one of the latter this past week. Obviously a snapshot of the prevailing mood right now, it is not a poll with which the Obama campaign should be happy.
The poll indicated that 49 percent of likely voters said they expect a court ruling that is unfavorable to the Affordable Care Act, while just 29 percent think it will be upheld and 22 percent aren’t sure.
On economic issues, 62 percent of voters say Obama’s policies will increase the debt, while 25 percent think they will cut it, and by a 48-percent-to-38-percent margin, voters believe those policies will increase joblessness rather than put people back to work.
On energy, 58 percent say Obama’s policies will result in gasoline prices increasing, while just 20 percent expect them to cut prices — and by a 46-percent-to-36-percent margin, voters believe they will cause the United States to become even more dependent on foreign oil.
Now as far as I’m concerned, those are the three issues that are likely to (or should) dominate the election once a GOP nominee is decided on. If they’re not, and the GOP allows the Democrats to frame the campaign on issues other than those, they stand a good chance of losing.
Regardless of the outcome in the Supreme Court, ObamaCare remains very unpopular with a majority of the population. The economy is one of those issues that is personal. Despite media hype, voters judge the state of the economy on a personal level. The “official unemployment number” can be made to look rosy, but in fact real people who are still unemployed or underemployed know who they are. They are the real number and they’re not going to be happy with the state of the economy.
Finally, the energy tap-dance that the administration is doing is obviously failing. Obama is failing miserably passing off the blame about gas prices if 58% are saying his “policies” are the problem. True or not, perception is the rule. Oh, and, frankly, it’s true. See for yourself.
When you have consistent polls that say a vast majority of voters are unhappy with a president’s signature piece of legislation, that’s a place you focus your campaign. When you have two important issues – the economy and energy – where significant majorities are down on the incumbent for his policies, you hammer that unmercifully.
This poll is an indicator of the issues the GOP should build its campaign around. These points should be pushed relentlessly.
Porn, contraception and other wedge issues should be avoided. Sorry, but they’re net losers and true distractions. They let the left frame the discussion and trust me, that’s where they’re going to take it every time.
Oh, as an aside, if you’re interested in what a useless poll looks like, check this one out. Justices appointed to lifetime positions are hardly worried about “popularity”. In fact, that’s the primary reason for such appointments. While the poll may indicate public dissatisfaction with some rulings, it may also simply indicate a partisan divide. But for the most part, it is irrelevant.
I’m not sure how much more plainly it has to be said. Here, let Gallup try:
More than 9 in 10 U.S. registered voters say the economy is extremely (45%) or very important (47%) to their vote in this year’s presidential election. Unemployment, the federal budget deficit, and the 2010 healthcare law also rank near the top of the list of nine issues tested in a Feb. 16-19 USA Today/Gallup poll. Voters rate social issues such as abortion and gay marriage as the least important.
If making the point graphically will help, here it is:
The top 5 or 6 are your winners. Any questions?
And in case that didn’t quite sink in and you still want to argue about it, try this one:
Are we getting through yet? Is it starting to get clearer? Any talk about anything other than the top 5 or 6 topics, and preferably the top 3 or 4, is a distraction, waste of time and will see voters, especially those in the middle column critical to any electoral win, tune you out.
It is the economy, stupid. That’s what the people are concerned with, what they’re most likely to base their vote on and what they expect you to be talking about.
Take a hint.
Despite what Democrats thing and despite the fact that they’ve doubled down on this theme, the “tax the rich” meme of their class warfare agenda isn’t at all as popular as they think it is, as the Hill reports:
Three-quarters of likely voters believe the nation’s top earners should pay lower, not higher, tax rates, according to a new poll for The Hill.
The big majority opted for a lower tax bill when asked to choose specific rates; precisely 75 percent said the right level for top earners was 30 percent or below.
The current rate for top earners is 35 percent. Only 4 percent thought it was appropriate to take 40 percent, which is approximately the level that President Obama is seeking from January 2013 onward.
So this is another issue in which the GOP would be able to find majority support.
And on corporate taxes, much the same thing:
The Hill Poll also found that 73 percent of likely voters believe corporations should pay a lower rate than the current 35 percent, as both the White House and Republicans push plans to lower rates.
The Hill tires to argue that the results of their poll is counter to what other recent polls have found. But in reality, it isn’t:
The new data seem to run counter to several polls that have found support for raising taxes on high-income earners. In an Associated Press-GfK poll released Friday, 65 percent said they favored President Obama’s “Buffett Rule” that millionaires should pay at least 30 percent of their income. And a Pew poll conducted in June found 66 percent of adults favored raising taxes on those making more than $250,000 as a way to tackle the deficit.
Again, note the percentage number in the AP-GfK poll – 30 percent or the percentage they’re now paying. When you ask voters to put a percentage to the nebulous “the rich should pay more” meme, you find the majority of voters consider 30% more than fair. The fact that many may not know that the so-called “rich” are paying that amount is means the GOP needs to do a little educating and informing, but it is clear that voters find the 30% threshold to be more than enough taxation.
So while the Democrats continue to try to push 40% as “fair”, most voters don’t see it as that. The majority of votes seem to think that fairness in the amount of taxes paid is found at the 30% level. That’s information to exploit and use against the class warfare Democrats.
Additionally the AP-Gfk polls shows majority support for spending cuts over tax increases. That’s a winner for the GOP.
What the GOP can’t do is allow the Democrats to take the issue and frame it as Timothy Geithner tired to do the other day:
“…the only way to achieve fiscal sustainability is through unacceptably deep cuts in benefits for middle class seniors, or unacceptably deep cuts in national security."
That’s patent nonsense, but the usual scare tactics employed when anyone talks about significant cuts in spending. Always threaten the security of a large body of voters with false choices. There are literally thousands of different ways to work toward sustainability before either of those programs would have to be touched (and yes, those programs should be “touched” as well).
So what do Republicans have to do?
“It might be that people are underestimating how much the rich pay now,” said Bruce Bartlett, a former Reagan adviser and Treasury official under President George H.W. Bush.
The data could indicate a challenge to Obama’s push to increase taxes on the wealthy. The White House’s fiscal 2013 budget request included a number of tax hikes targeting the nation’s wealthiest. In addition to the “Buffett Rule,” it calls for raising taxes on family income above $250,000 in 2013, and returning the top individual rate to 39.6 percent.
But as Obama continues his push to allow the higher-end Bush tax cuts to expire at the end of the year, the poll suggests it might be difficult to persuade voters to buy in when it comes to hard numbers.
Start talking hard numbers and percentages. Point out that our problem doesn’t revolve around the “rich” not paying enough in taxes, but instead with our politicians spending money we don’t have.
The sustainability problem has never been a problem of revenue. It has always been a problem of overspending. And it is that which has to stop.
As I’ve said repeatedly over the years, candidate vs. candidate polls are virtually useless this far out from an election (9 months).
There’s little reason to pay attention to them. So when you see these:
Obama 48.6 %
[I]n January 1980, the Gallup Poll showed:
And, of course, there are plenty of other examples of those sorts of polls to be found if you look.
That said, there are polls that are indicators because they provide a history that lends itself to identifying whether or not an incumbent is actually in trouble or not. The candidate v. candidate polls above really don’t. We’re still in the early stages of nominating a candidate for one party and the focus has yet to really turn on the incumbent. Numbers will change, I suspect fairly dramatically, when that happens. And, to this point, I’d suggest that most of the country isn’t yet engaged in the presidential race. That will happen 6 months from now when you can begin to pay attention to those polls pitting candidate against candidate.
But to those polls that matter, or at least point to historical trends, etc. Here’s one:
It’s February, nine months before a presidential election, and only 22 percent of Americans say they are satisfied with the way things are going. Voters haven’t been this unhappy with the country since George H.W. Bush’s presidency, when only 21 percent of Americans reported being happy with the country’s direction. And before that, the lowest approval rating was 19 percent during Jimmy Carter’s first term.
What do the two presidencies have in common? Neither of them won re-election. And, if the trends holds true, Obama looks to be in an equally precarious situation.
The American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research released its 2012 campaign outlook, and it’s clear Obama’s sitting in the same position George H.W. Bush and Jimmy Carter were in during the February before their election losses—voters don’t feel good about the country.
So when I hear Democratic strategists like James Carville saying things like this …
The only way the president will lose according to Carville is if some event takes place and changes things. He maintained it wouldn’t be the result of the GOP nominee outshining Obama.
“Right now, things are starting to perk up a little bit,” he said. “Who knows? This is the — no Republican can beat Obama. Events can beat Obama. He’s not going to get beat by a Republican. Now events could come in and cause him to lose the election. But that’s it right now. That was not the case three months ago.”
… I laugh. This is pure “whistling past the graveyard” and political spin. Carville is engaged in psychological warfare here. He wants everyone to believe the worm has turned and it is all sunlight and roses for his candidate.
If dissatisfaction can be called an “event”, then that’s the event which should put Obama exactly where he belongs in November – planning for his presidential library in 2013.
Carville knows as well as anyone that at this point in the process, his choice for re-election has gone almost unscathed and his record mostly unscrutinized. But that will change and it will change dramatically in a few months. And about that time, the focus of the nation will begin to turn to national politics.
The fact remains that the American public is not happy and when it is not happy it tends to not reelect its president. That is the “event” this president faces. And my guess is, when the GOP finally settles on its candidate, OMG (Obama Must Go) will be the driving “event” which determines the election.
Carville says “no Republican” can beat Obama? I disagree. In the end, any Republican can beat Obama. Some by larger margins than others, certainly. But that’s my prediction. The Democrats really haven’t a clue about the level of dissatisfaction that exists with this president.
Even the president most demonized by the left had better numbers than Obama does. At the January SOTU prior to his 2004 re-election run, George W. Bush enjoyed a 41% satisfaction rate (as did Ronald Regan and Bill Clinton). As noted, Obama is at 22%, 3 points above the president almost universally identified as our worst modern president.
Let’s see if James Carville is still laughing after the “event” it November. My guess would be “no”.
A new PPP poll suggests that’s the case. As I’ve mentioned any number of times, this is one of the polls I keep tabs on because the enthusiasm of the voting public for a particular candidate or party are key to Get Out The Vote (GOTV) efforts and election wins.
The paltry turnout in the Republican Presidential contests over the last week reflects what we’ve seen in our recent national polling: Democrats are now more excited about voting this fall than Republicans are, reversing the enthusiasm gap that plagued the party in 2010.
Our last national survey for Daily Kos found that 58% of Democrats were ‘very excited’ about voting this fall, compared to 54% of Republicans. Six months ago the figures were 48% of Democrats ‘very excited’ and Republicans at the same 54%. Generally you would expect voters to get more excited as the election gets nearer. That trend is occurring on the Democratic side, but not for the GOP.
Going deeper inside the numbers:
-25% of conservatives are not at all excited to vote this fall, compared to only 16% of liberals.
-The percentage of Tea Party voters ‘very excited’ about voting in November has declined from 73% to 62% since late July.
-The single group of voters most enthused about turning this year are African Americans, 72% of whom say they’re ‘very excited’ to cast their ballots.
Given the GOP primary process, I have to say I’m not at all surprised by these numbers. It’s has been bloody and divisive. But, as PPP admits, this could change once a nominee is settled upon. And, one should remember, President Obama has been mostly out of the pre-election limelight. Once the focus of the GOP has settled on him, you may see enthusiasm on the right rise again. But suffice it to say, the enthusiasm gap we see right now has more to do with the current crop of GOP candidates than ousting Barack Obama from the presidency.
Another poll, WND/Wenzel Poll, suggests that 20% of self-identified Republicans are leaning toward Obama this year. I’m not so sure about that. And if true, does that indicate actual support for Obama or disgust with the GOP process (and candidates). I’d guess the latter. At this point, though, Intrade has Obama’s re-election chances at 60%.
Before the Obama campaign begins to celebrate, there’s something they need to consider this from Gallup:
This historical pattern suggests that Obama would need to see his job approval rating climb to 50% to be in a comfortable position for re-election. History shows that by March of the election year, all winning presidents in the modern era, including George W. Bush, had job approval ratings above 50%, and all losing presidents had job approval ratings below 50%. This suggests that where Obama stands by next month may be an important indicator of his ultimate re-election chances.
In fact, at this point in his presidency he has an approval rating below that of both George H.W. Bush and Jimmy Carter, both of whom lost their re-election bids.
Independents aren’t mentioned among all this polling and it is their enthusiasm and turn out that will likely determine November’s outcome. But still … if you can get your own base enthused, how are you going to convince indies to turn out for you?
That’s what I want to try to look into a little at CPAC. We’ll see what I find.
I’m stunned every now and then when I see a story like this. By the way this isn’t an indictment of Germany, necessarily, its not the only country in which you’ll find such knowledge gaps. Japan has hidden its atrocities during WWII as well. In fact, most countries would prefer not to discuss such behavior.
But it sure makes it hard to say “Never again” and have it mean anything if part of the population doesn’t know what it refers too.
One in five young Germans has no idea that Auschwitz was a Nazi death camp, a poll released Wednesday showed, two days ahead of Holocaust memorial day.
Although 90 percent of those asked did know it was a concentration camp, the poll for Thursday’s edition of Stern news magazine revealed that Auschwitz meant nothing to 21 percent of 18-29 year olds.
And nearly a third of the 1,002 people questioned last Thursday and Friday for the poll were unaware that Auschwitz was in today’s Poland.
Maybe it’s not significant that 21% didn’t recognize a name that is so identified with concentration camps that it could be a synonym. Perhaps it is good enough that 90% of the total knew it was a concentration camp. Or does it signal that the shame and the knowledge of the shame brought to Germany by the Nazis is beginning to fade (of course my guess is if you asked the question of the same demographic here in the US, the percentage to which the name would mean nothing would probably be higher)?
Or, does it perhaps point to a demographic in which a portion is so self-absorbed that history like that represented by Auschwitz simply doesn’t register?
I wonder at times, as I watch the WWII era dim as veterans die off, whether things like D-Day and its import or Pearl Harbor will even get a mention in a few years.
But back to the poll. If ever there is something every German school kid should know about it is the Nazi era. If ever there was a subject to which they should be exposed, to include all of the atrocities by that regime, it is the subject of Germany and Nazism.
I can’t help but believe, and I don’t know it for sure, that the subject gets taught but it isn’t something that is lingered over by schools. And I wonder how sanitized it has become now days.
The fact that a fifth of the young demographic said the name “Auschwitz” had no meaning for them has thinking it is both short and sanitized when presented.
Wonder if they knew the name “Dachau” (10 mines northwest of Munich).
As expected, and as polls indicated would happen, Mitt Romney won the New Hampshire primary. And he did more than win, he pretty much cruised to victory. Second place went to Ron Paul, which, actually, shouldn’t be particularly surprising. New Hampshire is a libertarian leaning state. He should have done well there. Jon Huntsman took third, which is mildly surprising, after the showing Rick Santorum made in Iowa.
And yes, the big loser was Santorum who was pretty much rejected as a candidate by New Hampshire primary voters, negating his Iowa showing. Apparently his time as Republican flavor of the week may be passing. As for Newt and Rick Perry … well as Ron Paul said, “drop out.” Gingrich and Santorum polled 9% while Perry got an anemic 1% in the Granite State.
All of the bottom 3 candidates think that the upcoming South Carolina primary will resuscitate their campaigns feeling their messages will get a better reception there than in New Hampshire. Frankly, I think Perry is fooling himself. He hasn’t done well in either Iowa or New Hampshire and he’s not polling well in South Carolina.
PPP has it broken down as Romney 30, Santorum 19, Gingrich 23, Paul 9, Perry 5, Huntsman 4. Rasmussen has it Romney 27, Santorum 24, Gingrich 18, Paul 11, Perry 5, Huntsman 2 .
If those numbers hold, and there’s no reason to think they won’t, it may be Paul who is looking for the exit poll after SC. I doubt he’ll do well in Florida. Huntsman is done and probably the next to leave, and if Perry shows as dismally as the polls show, he’ll be out before Florida’s January 31 primary.
Santorum is looking for a boost for him from what MSNBC calls the “socially conservative and evangelical Christian voters in the Palmetto State”. If he’s able to pull Rasmussen’s numbers then he’ll stay for a while. If he ends up second with a PPP spread, he’s pretty much done whether he’ll admit it or not. He’s not going to pull good numbers in Florida.
So, like it or not, Romney appears headed toward the nomination at this time. Watch for Gingrich to remain to the bitter end and be much more destructive to the GOP’s chances than the Obama campaign ever will be. Obama, after all, has to run on his poor record which means the campaign has to be careful about what issues they raise and what they don’t want raised. Gingrich is the Attila the Hun of politics, with no such limits and no qualms about pulling out all the stops even if his effort is doomed. As I said once before, it was only a matter of time until “bad Newt” showed up, and he’s here.
Meanwhile in New Hampshire, Barack Obama only managed 82% of the total Democratic vote. 10% went to write-ins and 1% of the total vote went to Vermin Supreme, the guy who claims to be a satirist and wears a rubber boot as headgear.
I put the results of a lot of polls up. I also skip a lot of them. I usually skip those that I think are transitory and really don’t mean anything in the long run, such as candidate popularity polls a year out from an election with no settled nominee on one side of the political spectrum. At this point, they change like the wind.
But I also think there are “indicator” polls that are important regardless of when they’re taken in relation to the next national election. Direction of the country is one (satisfaction). Voter enthusiasm is another (most energized). And where the independents fall is a third (they decide elections).
Here’s a fourth “indicator” poll (by Gallup) that should disturb the incumbent president’s campaign greatly:
Throughout 2011, an average of 17% of Americans said they were satisfied with the way things are going in the United States. That is the second-lowest annual average in the more than 30-year history of the question, after the 15% from 2008. Satisfaction has averaged as high as 60% in 1986, 1998, and 2000.
Why is this important? Because politics is a game of perception and in the end, the only perception that matters is the one the voters have both in general and specifically about certain issues and candidates. But it is the general perception that colors voters views on both issues and candidates. And that’s why this poll indicates problems for the president. It is numbers like this that spell election loss to those who’ve been in charge for a term.
The obvious thing the Obama campaign is going to have to do is try to sell the idea that things could have been a lot worse if it weren’t for the “savior”. That’s a very difficult job. Because people tend to judge the condition of the country based on their situation and circumstances (or that of family and friends).
Here’s the bottom line for the President’s campaign that no amount of spin will be able to change:
Americans continue to express low levels of satisfaction with the way things are going in the United States, rivaling the lowest Gallup has measured in the past 30+ years. That dissatisfaction probably reflects Americans’ economic anguish, and the prospects for considerable improvement in satisfaction are not great unless the economy improves significantly.
Likely or unlikely in the next 11 months?
If I had to guess, and watching the developments around the world, such as Europe as well as the US, I’d say “not very likely”.
Probably not so much fatigue as getting to know Newt and finding out he’s not really the guy many in the GOP want as the presidential nominee. In fact, no one seems to be really capturing the attention of likely GOP voters for more than a month or two without imploding or fading. Gingrich seems to be doing a fade job as Gallup documents:
After enjoying 14- to 15-percentage-point leads over Mitt Romney in early December, Newt Gingrich is now statistically tied with Romney in national Republican preferences for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination: 26% for Gingrich vs. 24% for Romney. This follows a steady decline in support for Gingrich in the past 10 days.
My guess is “Getting To Know You” wouldn’t be Newt Gingrich’s favorite song, because the more you know about him and the more you hear him, the less you want this guy anywhere near the Oval Office. And for the man who sat on the couch with Nancy Pelosi to try to claim conservative credentials is, well, laughable.
So as the press actually vets a candidate (apparently they remembered how after Obama was elected) and voters get to hear more and more from him on issues such as the judiciary (and something about handcuffs) etc., not to mention the fact that he is the consummate and ultimate Washington DC insider, his star begins to twinkle less brightly in the political heavens.
Iowa will be upon us soon. Rumor and a few polls have it that Ron Paul will win that. As someone else mentioned, if he does, that will make Iowa pretty much a farce. Paul cannot get beyond 10 to 11% nationally and winning Iowa won’t change that. What it may do, it that happens, is cast even more doubt on Gingrich’s ability to win in the long run. A Paul win in Iowa will simply make him the latest GOP shooting star.
Romney, however, will plod along and his organization will take Iowa in stride and continue on the long road to the nomination. I’m not saying I want Romney by any stretch, just laying out the facts as I see them. He has built the best organization and ground game. Iowa will not stop or deter his pursuit of the nomination. I won’t go as far as to say his nomination is inevitable. It’s a long way to November. I’m just saying that, barring the entry into the race of the prefect candidate, he probably has the best chance of being the compromise nominee when the convention rolls around. Obviously the primaries will tell, but I wouldn’t put too much emphasis on Iowa.
Gingrich, on the other hand, is seeing what I would consider an expected pushback. When you first see him and hear him you think, “ok, he’s articulate, he debates well, he could take on the incumbent easily and, well, he might not be so bad”. Then you begin to pay attention and hear his ideas and thoughts. And you decide he’s not at all what you’re looking for if you’re really a conservative. He can talk the game, but if you really listen and pay attention to what he’s said in the past, you know he’s about as consistent as Mitt Romney – he just spins his flip-flops better.
That said, the GOP faithful are going to have to realize something – and before I say this, I want it understood it is not an endorsement of any of the above – they’re not going to get the perfect candidate. At some point they’re going to have to pick among those running and back that candidate if they want Barack Obama to begin planning his library. And it may entail holding their collective noses to do so … again.
If anything, that’s the problem with which the entire electorate should be concerned. Look at the incumbent. Look at the challengers. How in the world did we ever get in the shape that they are the only one’s from which we have to pick?
This is important because it has become clear that the populist class warfare approach is how the Democrats intend to focus their national campaign. If what Obama is doing out on the campaign trail right now (and make no mistake about it, he is campaigning) is any indication, they’re going to talk about haves and have nots, try to place the majority in the have not camp and then demonize the haves.
It may not be the best of strategies if this Gallup poll is any indicator:
Americans are now less likely to see U.S. society as divided into the "haves" and "have nots" than they were in 2008, returning to their views prior to that point. A clear majority, 58%, say they do not think of America in this way, after Americans were divided 49% to 49% in the summer of 2008.
That last phrase is key. It points to one of the reasons Obama won in 2008. The campaign, while more subtle about it, was able to play off an America which had been convinced enough that such was the case, to provide a divided house – 49% to 49%. Advantage Obama campaign.
This time around? It doesn’t seem to be resonating this time, which may surprise some:
Americans’ views of their own position as "haves" or "have nots" have been remarkably stable, even as the nation’s economic problems have intensified. Still, the finding that fewer Americans now than in 2008 consider U.S. society as divided into "haves" and "have nots" suggests a decreasing — rather than increasing — level of worry about unfair income distribution in the U.S. at this time.
So what’s a populist politician who has committed himself to version 2.0 of the shtick that worked so well the last time to do? Again the good sense of the American people has emerged and the game has changed. Adaptation in politics is key to success. How does an Axlerod, who has obviously helped engineer this return to the old and familiar that served them so well previously view such a poll?
Is it an outlier. Hardly … it’s a poll this organization has been doing for years.
So does this mean the populist class warfare approach is going to backfire on them? That it simply won’t have the resonance it had in 2008? Or is it, more simply, an growing rejection of the Obama administration and what they’ve tried to sell as the “dirty little secret” of our country’s reality?
Even with the bad financial situation, record unemployment and a concerted propaganda effort to demonize the “rich” (not to mention the OWS nonsense), Americans, in growing numbers nonetheless, are rejecting the premise.
That’s got to worry someone in the Obama campaign, wouldn’t you think?