Politics: White House

White House Seeks to Expand Training for Manufacturing Jobs

Add to Briefcase
See more stories about...
June 8, 2011, 9:43 a.m.

A Rasmussen Re­ports (IVR) poll; con­duc­ted 10/6; sur­veyed 750 LVs; mar­gin of er­ror +/- 3.6% (re­lease, 10/7). Tested: Gov. Rick Perry (R) and ex-Hou­s­ton May­or Bill White (D).

Gen­er­al Elec­tion Match­up

- Now 9/22 8/22 7/13 6/16 5/13 4/14 3/3 2/1 1/17 R. Perry 53% 48% 49% 50% 48% 51% 48% 49% 48% 50% B. White 42 42 41 41 40 38 44 43 39 40 Oth­er 2 3 3 2 5 4 2 3 5 4 Un­dec 4 6 7 7 8 6 6 6 8 6

The Re­pub­lic­an pres­id­en­tial nom­in­a­tion is es­sen­tially settled. A wave of polls, fo­cus groups, and oth­er sur­vey re­search is tak­ing the tem­per­at­ure of the race, with cer­tain clear themes emer­ging.

Even though pre­sumptive nom­in­ee Mitt Rom­ney has spent the last year and a half al­most ex­clus­ively fo­cused on cur­ry­ing fa­vor with his party’s con­ser­vat­ive base — quite of­ten ant­ag­on­iz­ing oth­er voters, in­clud­ing in­de­pend­ents and swing voters — this race is very close. The Real­Clear­Polit­ics av­er­age of re­cent polls shows a lead for Pres­id­ent Obama of 3.1 per­cent­age points, 47.6 per­cent to 44.5 per­cent. The Huff­post Poll­ster es­tim­ate is 2.2 per­cent­age points, 47 per­cent to 44.8 per­cent.

In a sep­ar­ate and slightly older na­tion­al sur­vey of likely voters by Green­berg Quin­lan Ros­ner for the Demo­crat­ic Corps/Wo­men’s Voices and Wo­men’s Vote Ac­tion Fund, taken March 29-April 4, Obama led by a single point, 48 per­cent to 47 per­cent. Pre­sum­ably, as Rom­ney shifts his mes­saging to­ward swing voters, oth­er polls may be­gin to look like this one.

Last week, Demo­crat­ic poll­ster Peter Hart con­duc­ted one of his peri­od­ic fo­cus groups, sponsored by the Uni­versity of Pennsylvania’s Annen­berg Pub­lic Policy Cen­ter. After listen­ing to more than two hours of the con­ver­sa­tion, I con­cluded that most of this Tampa, Fla.-based group of Re­pub­lic­ans and in­de­pend­ents who fre­quently sup­port GOP can­did­ates will ul­ti­mately sup­port Rom­ney. Yet they do not feel at all per­son­ally bon­ded to the former Mas­sachu­setts gov­ernor; in­deed, most were set to vote against Obama rather than for Rom­ney. It wasn’t so much that they didn’t like Rom­ney. They clearly felt that they didn’t know him, and that he owes his front-run­ner status more to his op­pon­ents’ short­com­ings and to ads by and for Rom­ney at­tack­ing his rivals. These voters said they didn’t have enough in­form­a­tion to sup­port him out­right. The lack of a per­son­al con­nec­tion to Rom­ney was strik­ing.

The good news for Rom­ney: The gen­er­al-elec­tion cam­paign ads in­tro­du­cing him to voters and aim­ing to drive up his pop­ular­ity with swing voters will un­doubtedly shore up his stand­ing among Re­pub­lic­ans, too. But the fo­cus group un­der­scores the ne­ces­sity for the Rom­ney cam­paign to make him a more mul­ti­di­men­sion­al fig­ure, to warm up his im­age, and to make him seem a more com­pel­ling per­son­al­ity.

Con­ver­sa­tions with prom­in­ent Re­pub­lic­an strategists who are not of­fi­cially con­nec­ted to the Rom­ney camp ex­pand on that idea. These dis­cus­sions sug­gest that an im­age of be­ing simply a com­pet­ent “fix-it” guy who can man­age the eco­nomy isn’t enough. Rom­ney needs to es­tab­lish a pos­it­ive vis­ion for the coun­try. He needs to move bey­ond re­cit­ing pat­ri­ot­ic songs, as he is prone to do in speeches.

An­oth­er theme evid­ent from polling is that most voters still like Obama per­son­ally. A clear ma­jor­ity of in­de­pend­ents still like him. Even about half of the Re­pub­lic­ans in the Uni­versity of Pennsylvania fo­cus group liked him or had something pos­it­ive to say about him.

Some ana­lysts mis­takenly think that per­son­al feel­ings and fa­vor­ab­il­ity rat­ings are the same as job-ap­prov­al rat­ings. Al­though it is al­ways bet­ter for a can­did­ate to be liked than dis­liked, for an in­cum­bent the per­cep­tion of per­form­ance and ef­fect­ive­ness mat­ters far more than likab­il­ity. Voters didn’t turn sour on Pres­id­ent Ford in 1976; they just voted for change. In­de­pend­ent voters like Pres­id­ent Obama, but the ques­tion is wheth­er they think he has done a good job.

Re­pub­lic­ans should take note that some of the per­son­al at­tacks on Obama strain cred­ib­il­ity. At­tacks on his ef­fect­ive­ness are less likely to do so.

Watch Obama’s job-ap­prov­al rat­ing in the com­ing days to see if there is a re­ac­tion to the re­treat of gas­ol­ine prices. Last week, his ap­prov­al rat­ing ticked up 1 point in the weekly Gal­lup com­pil­a­tion from 47 per­cent to 48 per­cent, and the three-day av­er­age moved up to 50 per­cent. Only once, March 28-30, had the pres­id­ent’s three-day ap­prov­al touched 50 per­cent since early June, just after Osama bin Laden’s death. One roll could eas­ily be stat­ist­ic­al noise, but that it happened just after gas­ol­ine prices dropped a nick­el could be worth not­ing.

The Ir­ish-based web­site In­trade, an on­line pre­dic­tions mar­ket, gives Obama a 60 per­cent chance of reelec­tion. The sur­vey re­search, though, doesn’t bear out that bullish fore­cast. An Obama vic­tory is con­tin­gent upon an­oth­er ex­traordin­ary level of turnout among minor­ity and young­er voters. He also needs to win close to a ma­jor­ity of in­de­pend­ent voters. In­de­pend­ents, however, still look at the pres­id­ent with grave skep­ti­cism and have bad memor­ies from his first two years in of­fice. So far, little evid­ence in­dic­ates a re­prise of 2008’s en­thu­si­asm among minor­ity and young­er voters. (The new NBC News/Wall Street Journ­al poll in­dic­ated a dis­tinct lack of en­thu­si­asm among young­er voters.)

Obama’s vis­its to col­lege cam­puses this week are just a down pay­ment on his ef­forts to re­build the co­ali­tion that cata­pul­ted him to the Oval Of­fice. Re­ignit­ing young voters’ en­thu­si­asm might be easi­er than win­ning back in­de­pend­ents, who are look­ing for a more mean­ing­ful eco­nom­ic re­cov­ery be­fore they are will­ing to re­join the Obama team.

What We're Following See More »
Byrd Rule Could Trip Up Health Legislation
1 days ago

"Even if House Republicans manage to get enough members of their party on board with the latest version of their health care bill, they will face another battle in the Senate: whether the bill complies with the chamber’s arcane ... Byrd rule, which stipulates all provisions in a reconciliation bill must affect federal spending and revenues in a way that is not merely incidental." Democrats should have the advantage in that fight, "unless the Senate pulls another 'nuclear option.'”

Senate Votes To Fund Government
2 days ago
House Passes Spending Bill
2 days ago

The House has passed a one-week spending bill that will avert a government shutdown which was set to begin at midnight. Lawmakers now have an extra week to come to a longer agreement which is expected to fund the government through the end of the fiscal year in September. The legislation now goes to the Senate, where it is expected to pass before President Trump signs it.

Puerto Rico Another Sticking Point in Budget Talks
3 days ago

President Trump’s portrayal of an effort to funnel more Medicaid dollars to Puerto Rico as a "bailout" is complicating negotiations over a continuing resolution on the budget. "House Democrats are now requiring such assistance as a condition for supporting the continuing resolution," a position that the GOP leadership is amenable to. "But Mr. Trump’s apparent skepticism aligns him with conservative House Republicans inclined to view its request as a bailout, leaving the deal a narrow path to passage in Congress."

Democrats Threaten Spending Bill Over Obamacare
3 days ago

Democrats in the House are threatening to shut down the government if Republicans expedite a vote on a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, said Democratic House Whip Steny Hoyer Thursday. Lawmakers have introduced a one-week spending bill to give themselves an extra week to reach a long-term funding deal, which seemed poised to pass easily. However, the White House is pressuring House Republicans to take a vote on their Obamacare replacement Friday to give Trump a legislative victory, though it is still not clear that they have the necessary votes to pass the health care bill. This could go down to the wire.


Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.