If Obama Moves Right He Loses Everybody -- and Everybody Loses
The latest Democracy Corps/Campaign For America's Future poll on jobs and the economy has a clear message for the president and his party: Stand up for jobs, and protect Social Security and Medicare. The results couldn't be clearer. Yet it's still rumored that the president's State of the Union will emphasize deficit reduction over job creation, and the White House has refused to assure worried Democrats that the president won't also propose cuts to Social Security.
How many polls will it take to convince the White House that this is political suicide? How many expert analyses will it take to persuade them that its premature to make deficits the priority when the country desperately needs jobs and economic growth?
Eskow goes on to paint a devastating picture of how Democratic strength has eroded, drawn from the poll:
Support for Congressional Democrats among young voters is plunging, as the 63-18 percent difference drops to 50-39 percent in a hypothetical 2012 match-up. And these numbers don't capture the lost intensity of support, either.
After the 2008 election, the Obama team boasted that it had built an independent, youth-based team around its Internet lists that it could mobilize to win future elections. But the number of young voters plunged by more than half in 2010. 51 percent of voters aged 18-29 showed up in 2008, and that number plummeted to 20.4 percent last November. That's even fewer than voted in 2006. The party's lead in union households, another Democratic stronghold, has dropped from 37 points to 18 points.
The president and the party still have some very strong relationships: suburban voters, unmarried women, and African Americans are still very solid. And the president's negatives have dropped sharply since the election. But two core constituencies, the young and union members, are crumbling.
The picture's even bleaker among key groups of swing voters. Congressional Democrats are trailing by 23 points among white non-college voters, and Obama's losing them to Sarah Palin by 22 points (and to Romney by 21). Obama's losing white seniors to Palin by 8 points, to Romney by 25 points, and other Democrats are losing them by 16 points. Congressional Democrats are losing rural non-South white voters by 31 points, and Obama trails both Palin and Romney (losing to Romney by 26 points).
So the question becomes, what should the president and Congressional Democrats do -- and what shouldn't they do -- to improve their electoral chances?
But there is a stunningly simple and straightforward solution to this mess: Be a Democrat!
The Way Out
The answer, as it turns out, is: The right thing. The rumored priorities for the State of the Union are exactly the opposite of voters' priorities. When asked to name the two biggest problems right now, the overwhelming answer was "jobs and the economy."
Unemployment and outsourcing ranked first and second, with a total of 74 percent of respondents placing them in the top two. "Deficits" were included by only 18 percent; 18 percent said "wages have not kept up with the cost of living," and 17 percent said "the economy is not growing." The total blend of answers paints the picture of a country devastated by job loss and economic setbacks.
In a similarly-structured question, 46 percent said Congress' top priority should be "economic recovery and jobs," 34 percent said "protecting Social Security and Medicare," and only 15 percent said "reducing the size of the budget deficit." Another 14 percent included "investing in new infrastructure and new industries" as one of their two top priorities.
Should Social Security benefits be cut? White seniors said no, by 48 percent to 36 percent, and the "don't cut" voters felt much more strongly about their position. White non-college voters said "don't cut" by 55 percent to 35 percent. Voters in districts that turned Republican in 2010 opposed cuts by 57 percent to 34 percent. Even suburban voters were opposed, 60 percent-34 percent.
Unfortunately, Obama has faced this same question repeatedly in the past. When faced with the choice between representing the people--even substantial numbers of Republicans--or kowtowing to brain-dead Versailles convention wisdom, the dead brain cells win out every single time.
Will this time be any different?