White House

President Obama Delivers Commencement Address at Booker T. Washington High School 5/16/11

Add to Briefcase
May 16, 2011, 10:36 a.m.

A Rasmussen Re­ports (IVR) poll; con­duc­ted 10/7; sur­veyed 750 LVs; mar­gin of er­ror +/- 3.6% (re­lease, 10/11). Tested: Busi­ness­man Rick Scott (R) and CFO Alex Sink (D).

Gen­er­al Elec­tion Match­up

- Now 9/30 9/22 9/1 R. Scott 50% 46% 50% 47% A. Sink 47 41 44 48 Oth­er 3 5 6 4 Un­dec 0 7 0 1

It’s not a sur­pris­ing ob­ser­va­tion, but this is an eco­nomy elec­tion. The eco­nomy is still by far the dom­in­ant is­sue with voters con­cerned about jobs, fin­ances, and the fed­er­al de­fi­cit’s im­pact on eco­nom­ic growth. So why, in the Re­pub­lic­an pres­id­en­tial primary, are can­did­ates talk­ing more and more about so­cial and cul­tur­al is­sues like con­tra­cep­tion?

I think there are a couple of ex­plan­a­tions for it. First, no one Re­pub­lic­an can­did­ate seems to have the abil­ity to unite all the vari­ous con­ser­vat­ive fac­tions — the fisc­al con­ser­vat­ives, the glob­al-se­cur­ity con­ser­vat­ives, and the so­cial con­ser­vat­ives. In 2000 and 2004, George W. Bush had the trust and ca­pa­city to unite these voters in­to one suc­cess­ful cam­paign ef­fort. Mitt Rom­ney, the lead­ing Re­pub­lic­an in 2012, seems in­cap­able of bring­ing all of these ele­ments to­geth­er. And be­cause there is no uni­fi­er, the vari­ous ele­ments of the party be­gin to at­tack each oth­er, and so­cial is­sues be­come part of the con­ver­sa­tion. That ex­plains why Rom­ney still has not been able to put this race away des­pite all the ad­vant­ages he has had.

Secondly, and more im­port­antly, among Re­pub­lic­ans, the eco­nomy has cooled as a press­ing is­sue. Six months ago, most Re­pub­lic­ans had an in­cred­ibly neg­at­ive and pess­im­ist­ic view of the eco­nomy. They were angry about it, and blamed Pres­id­ent Obama. This an­ger oc­cu­pied a huge part of the con­ver­sa­tion and it en­abled can­did­ates to cre­ate en­thu­si­asm among po­ten­tial primary voters. Today, that pess­im­ism has sub­sided a good deal.

Wit­ness the trend of the Bloomberg Con­sumer Com­fort In­dex, a weekly com­pos­ite score of how voters view the over­all eco­nomy and their own fin­ances and buy­ing power, ran­ging from 100 for most-op­tim­ist­ic to minus 100 for least. The over­all in­dex for all Amer­ic­ans still has a neg­at­ive rat­ing in the high 30s, though it has shown tre­mend­ous im­prove­ment over the last few months.

But when we look at this score among Re­pub­lic­an voters, we find an in­ter­est­ing de­vel­op­ment. Over the past three months, the Con­sumer Com­fort In­dex among Re­pub­lic­ans has im­proved 20 points! So while the GOP pres­id­en­tial race has in­tens­i­fied, Re­pub­lic­ans have felt less pess­im­ist­ic about their own fin­ances and the eco­nomy over­all. In fact, the com­fort score for Re­pub­lic­an voters is now 13 points bet­ter than that of Demo­crats. That’s right, Re­pub­lic­ans now feel bet­ter than their Demo­crat­ic coun­ter­parts about their eco­nom­ic pro­spects.

Much of the ex­plan­a­tion for this is that the slight im­prove­ments in the eco­nomy have helped wealth­i­er people dis­pro­por­tion­ately. The rising tide thus far has lif­ted only a few boats. Be­cause Re­pub­lic­an voters aren’t as angry about the eco­nomy, can­did­ates are search­ing for mes­sages that will touch them emo­tion­ally and mo­tiv­ate them — hence the rise of some so­cial and cul­tur­al is­sues in the primary. As the eco­nomy im­proves among these voters, they look for oth­er is­sues they are angry about. This in part helped Newt Gin­grich’s rise a couple of months ago, and Rick San­tor­um’s rise in the last month. Both began to talk more about cul­tur­al is­sues.

As we look to­ward Novem­ber, these cir­cum­stances will be im­port­ant to watch. The cul­tur­al and so­cial is­sues are prob­ably not a win­ning cam­paign mes­sage for the Re­pub­lic­ans in the fall, but part of their base ex­pects to hear about them, which will put likely nom­in­ee Rom­ney in a bind. And be­cause Demo­crat­ic voters are still pess­im­ist­ic about the eco­nomy and their own fin­ances, Obama needs to be care­ful how he talks about the eco­nomy and not be overly op­tim­ist­ic, which would make him seem out of touch with his own base. Yes, this is an eco­nomy elec­tion, but how the eco­nomy im­proves, and for whom, will com­plic­ate the cam­paigns of both parties.

What We're Following See More »
SAYS TRUMP JUST ATTACKING REPUBLICANS
Former Top Aide to McConnell Says GOPers Should Abandon Trump
12 hours ago
THE LATEST
“YOU CAN’T CHANGE HISTORY, BUT YOU CAN LEARN FROM IT”
Trump Defends Confederate Statues in Tweetstorm
16 hours ago
WHY WE CARE
CEOS HAVE BEEN FLEEING FOR THE EXITS
Trump to End Business Councils
1 days ago
THE LATEST
FROM STATEMENT
McConnell: “No Good Neo-Nazis”
1 days ago
THE LATEST
NO FORMAL LEGISLATIVE EFFORT
CBC Members Call for Removal of Confederate Statues from Capitol
1 days ago
THE LATEST

"Members of the Congressional Black Caucus are reviving calls to remove Confederate statues from the Capitol following the violence at a white nationalist rally in Virginia." Rep. Cedric Richmond, the group's chair, told ABC News that "we will never solve America's race problem if we continue to honor traitors who fought against the United States." And Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson said, “Confederate memorabilia have no place in this country and especially not in the United States Capitol." But a CBC spokesperson said no formal legislative effort is afoot.

Source:
×
×

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.

Login