Call it anecdotal evidence of the survey below and the point made about eroding Democratic support. There are obviously many reasons for that, but let’s look at one of them.
Recently some Republican pollsters hit 11 swing states and organized focus groups composed mostly of Democrats and Independents. What they found support the results of the Pew survey below. The reasons are fairly interesting:
McLaughlin handled blue collar and Catholic voters in Pittsburgh on April 3 and Cleveland on March 20. He found that they are very depressed about the economy and feel that their tax dollars are being sucked up by both the rich and those living on government assistance.
During the focus group discussions about debt and spending cuts, many in his group volunteered criticism of the presidential vacations as something that should be cut. Among the lines McLaughlin wrote down was one from a Democratic woman who said, “Michelle Obama spends $1 million to take the kids to Hawaii,” and another who said, “President Obama was the only president to take so many trips.”
The theme, said McLaughlin, is that the first family “is out of touch” with working class voters.
As has been said, in politics, “perception is reality” and the perception being reported by these focus groups is not one a president who is going to have to rely on populist arguments to hang on to power wants out there.
Now will that be enough to have them drop support for Obama or not turn out to vote? Obviously, we don’t have enough data to determine that. But, what you don’t see here is blind support for him either. The criticism, in this case, works against his populist posturing, however, and that’s not a good thing.
You may be questioning my assertion that Obama is trying build a populist campaign to help him retain power. However, his only other option is to run on and tout his record. And any sane political consultant would likely say, “are you kidding”?
So instead he’s engaged in a populist campaign. Demonizing the rich, Big Oil, student loans, etc. And his demonization of the rich is working, at least in Democratic circles. However, that success is being negated by the perception voiced above:
He added that the president’s attack on the rich and GOP presidential challenger Mitt Romney’s wealth is working, but the voters were also lumping in the president’s vacation spending in with the General Services Administration’s Las Vegas scandal and federal spending for those who aren’t looking for work.
Again, the populist campaign is being blunted by the president’s behavior and the spending scandal(s) surrounding his administration.
Oh, and another indicator to tuck away:
“There really wasn’t a real dislike for Romney. It was just that he is too rich. But on the other hand there is a start of resentment of the government,” he said. “What surprised me is that these were Democrats back biting on their own president,” added McLaughlin.
It doesn’t surprise me. There’s a sense of entitlement with this president and his family that is off-putting. And that is being picked up by potential voters and they don’t like it. They most likely wouldn’t like it in good economic times, but could likely shrug it off. But in bad economic times when they’re suffering, they deeply resent their president blithely ignoring their plight and essentially using his office (and their tax dollars) to indulge himself with something they can’t do.
Some analysts have a tendency to wave things like this off as nonsense. But it isn’t. A vote is made up of a lot of small things driven by their perceptions. When added up, that leads to a decision. Who knows what other perceptions these Democrats have to add to this obvious resentment they hold?
The point, of course, is are they enough to erode their support for Obama? We’ll see. But note, when Republican pollsters get this sort of reaction from blue collar Democrats in focus groups, it’s probably not a isolated feeling among that group.