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Political Insiders Poll

How detrimental to his reelection prospects is President Obama’s comment that the “private sector is doing fine”?

Democrats (95 votes)

Very damaging: 13%
Somewhat damaging:  63%
Not damaging: 24%


Very damaging

“The worst mistakes are the ones that are pithy enough for TV and that feed an existing narrative. This checks off both boxes.”

“Obama rarely misplaces a syllable but, wow, did he misplace this one.”


“What was the great communicator thinking? Note to Obama: When running for president, don’t channel your inner John McCain.”

Somewhat damaging

“Would that it were true—he’d be coasting.”

“It is really early in the campaign, but if used consistently and strategically by Romney and super PACs, it could become a difference maker.”


“In the battle of who is out of touch, Mitt (I-like-to-fire-people/My-wife-drives-a-couple-of-Cadillacs/Corporations-are-people/I’m-also-unemployed) Romney wins hands down.”

“It’s a minor distraction only because the media legitimizes a misspoken phrase as real news. The gaffe patrols need to stop on both sides.”

“His comments won’t mean a thing if the economy improves in the two months prior to the conventions; if not, we won’t hear the end of it. Dumbest thing he’s ever said.”

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“The American people are smarter than we give them credit for in Washington.”

“It’s not as bad as not knowing what a bar-code scanner is, but it was semi-Freudian as to his day-to-day focus on the economy.”

“McCain’s ‘fundamentals’ quote didn’t swing the election, and neither will this. But it knocked them off their game. Better now than October.”

“Gone with Fourth of July fireworks.”

Not damaging

“The comment will be long forgotten by November, though I am sure there will be dozens like it on both sides to keep everyone busy.”


“In the silly season that we are in, this will pass, just like Romney’s dog on the roof of his car.”


How detrimental to his reelection prospects is President Obama’s comment that the “private sector is doing fine”?

Republicans (103 votes)

Very damaging: 63%
Somewhat damaging: 33%
Not damaging: 4%

Very damaging

“We all know that Obama wants a rerun of 2008, but we didn’t know he wanted to play the McCain part.”

“That could well be the comment that cemented the beginning of the end for the president’s reelection bid.”

“The RNC couldn’t have written the script better. And the full script, that the private sector is doing fine but the public sector needs to grow, plays exactly into the GOP’s narrative.”

“It reveals a level of cluelessness that goes well beyond ‘gaffe.’ ”

“As one who has assumed the president was going to waltz to victory, this statement has done more to make me believe that he is a paper tiger than any other he has uttered.”

“The worst comment of his presidency. It shows he just doesn’t get it!”

“Obama pulled the curtain back on his economic philosophy, which is that we just need more government workers and spending. That’s not selling with voters anymore.”

“This ranks as the president’s ‘Katrina’ moment.”

“He would have been better off yelling ‘macaca’ than saying these five words.”

Somewhat damaging

“Somewhere between dumb and catastrophic.”

“Adds to the story line that he’s the Alicia Silverstone of American politics: Clueless.”

 “Major stumble. The real damage won’t be known until outside groups have an opportunity to play it over and over in swing states.”

“More as a symptom of a bigger problem. The guy just doesn’t get it.”

Not damaging

“People have the attention span of a gnat. This will be over by ... well, it’s already over.”

“It’s a five-yard dropped pass in the first quarter.”


When do you think that voters’ perceptions of the economy will solidify to the point that they won’t change before the election?

Democrats (95 votes)

Already solidified: 12%
June-August: 16%
September: 39%
October-early November: 34%

Already solidified

This article appears in the June 16, 2012 edition of National Journal Magazine.

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