The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

Bad News for Obama Campaign: Voters Remain Aware of the Economy


From the midweek edition of the Morning Jolt:

Despite Obama Efforts, Voters Stubbornly Continue to Notice the Economy Still Stinks

If Obama’s message seems unconvincing to us political junkies . . . the good news is, the casual news followers aren’t persuaded, either:

Pollsters Stan Greenberg and Erica Seifert, of Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, and Democratic strategist James Carville write in a research document for Democracy Corps that their party’s current frame for the 2012 race is not effective. Based on focus groups in Ohio and Pennsylvania, the strategists argue that voters are simply not convinced that the economy is on the move and it’s a mistake to try and tell them otherwise.

“These voters are not convinced that we are headed in the right direction. They are living in a new economy — and there is no conceivable recovery in the year ahead that will change the view of the new state of the country. They actually have a very realistic view of the long road back and the struggles of the middle class — and the current narrative about progress just misses the opportunity to connect and point forward,” they write. “While we hear some optimism, this is framed mostly by the sense that this has to be rock bottom.”

Obama manages to keep the race competitive because Mitt Romney is so distrusted by voters, the strategists contend. But if Obama is going to gain traction in the campaign, they continue, he needs to deploy a message “with minimal discussion of the recovery and jobs created and maximal empathy for the challenges people face.”

By the way, feel the skepticism coming off of this ABC News report on one of Obama’s appearances today:

BALTIMORE – As some high-profile Democrats question the focus of his pitch for a second term, President Obama today stuck closely to his well-worn script, telling a group of 500 donors here that the economy is moving in the right direction and that his policies will accelerate the recovery.

“With grit, resilience and innovation, we’re fighting our way back,” Obama said, citing a resurgence of the U.S. manufacturing sector and creation of 4.3 million private sector jobs over the last 27 months.

“Does this make us satisfied? No,” he said, “not when so many folks who are out there looking for work, not when so many homes are still underwater, not when so many states laying off so many teachers and first responders.

“This crisis did not happen overnight, it will be solved overnight,” he added.

Still, Obama insisted that a recovery is well underway and argued it’s “stronger than the one following the last recession.”

“We recovered more effectively than most other advanced nations,” he said. “But the hole we have to fill is deeper. And global aftershocks are great.”

It’s an argument that would seem to be an increasingly hard sell to Americans without jobs and facing other financial pressures.

And just in case you were wondering what the old Hillary team was thinking . . .

But pollster Mark Penn, Schoen’s former partner and a member of Clinton’s inner circle in the White House and later a force on Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, said Obama needs more than just a new message — but also a new economic plan.

“I think that the president needs a new economic plan that takes the country into the 21st century global economy, a plan with emphasis on education, infrastructure, innovation, and growing exports. A plan that creates new economy jobs for a country that wants to move forward,” he told BuzzFeed, adding that “most of the messages [in the memo] are too much about raising taxes and raising spending in a public that has changed quite dramatically from 1992.”

Think the old Hillary folks are quietly, or perhaps not so quietly, uttering “I told you so” to their party brethren lately?

Tags: Barack Obama , Economy Polling


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