Insiders: Voters Will Make Up Minds About Economy In Sept.
President Obama could still benefit from a late boost of economic growth, according to National Journal's Political Insiders poll, but only if it happens this summer.
A plurality of Democratic and Republican Insiders alike named September as the month when voters' perception of the economy will solidify, with 39 percent of Democrats saying so compared to 42 percent of Republicans. That's an important marker for the president, whose re-election hopes depend on an economy whose recovery once again seems to be stalling. According to the Insiders, he has June, July and August to hope better jobs reports boost his standing as a steward of the country's economy.
When do you think that voters' perceptions of the economy will solidify to the point that they won't change before the election?
If it hasn't by then, the president will be in real political trouble, they say.
"As people return to their normal routine following Labor Day, they will begin to more seriously consider the election, and if the economy is still struggling at that point, it will become increasingly more difficult for the President to recover, barring of course some type of 'October surprise,'" said one Democratic Insider.
Added one GOP Insider, "By September, we're past seasonal arguments about economic trends and close enough to the start of early voting that opinions could be hard to change dramatically."
Republicans and Democrats aren't completely unified: Democrats are more likely to think voters will keep an open mind even as late as November, while a chunk of Republicans think perceptions will harden by this summer. Thirty-four percent of Democrats think voter economic views will solidify in October or early November, the poll found, while only 16 percent of Republicans felt the same way.
Conversely, 24 percent of Republicans believe the public will make up its mind between June and August -- 16 percent of Democrats agreed.
"The difference between winning and losing will be decided by voters who virtually wait the distance until early-November," said one Democrat.
"401K statements for the third quarter arrive in mailboxes around October 15th," another Democrat added. "That will be key."
Other Republicans indicated the is going to start ticking soon, if it isn't already.
"The solidification process begins at the end of July," a GOP'er said. "After that voters check out to go on vacation, prepare their kids for school, and by Labor Day they look up at the election is here and the ads become white noise. The jobs report in July is going to be a big one."
Just 12 percent of Democrats and 19 percent of Republicans said perceptions are already set in stone. Many Insiders indicated that they thought while people used to make up their mind about the election at the onset of summer, a proliferation of information sped along by a lightning-quick news cycle had pushed the timetable back.
"The old saw about views solidifying 5 months out is probably moot in an age where economic swings happen so quickly and routinely," a Democratic Insider said.