Thursday :: Jan 28, 2010

Anger Helps, Mr. President


by Steve

We know that Obama knows how to give good speeches. His problem has been in being too naïve in dealing with his political opponents, and in translating those speeches into a political operation that pushes those opponents every day. As evidenced by the Democracy Corps instant polling and focus groups last night of independents and others who had moved away from Obama during the course of 2009, he managed to bring those voters back to his side with his rhetoric about jobs, holding Wall Street and the banks accountable, and the difficulties in dealing with the GOP.

Obama managed to decisively reverse the view that he was too close to Wall Street. In a Democracy Corps survey from just before the Massachusetts election, we found that a 49 to 41 percent plurality said Obama and Democrats were more concerned with bailouts for Wall Street than creating jobs for regular Americans. Entering the evening, swing voters in this group agreed with a 48 to 16 percent plurality saying Obama “puts Wall Street ahead of the middle class.” But after the speech, the number disagreeing with that statement jumped a remarkable 50 points, to 66 percent. Moreover, Obama saw a 38-point increase in support for his banking reform plan and a 40-point increase in the percent saying that he “stands up to special interests.” Obama’s strong words for the banks clearly resonated and generated some of the strongest scores on our dials of the night from Democrats, Republicans and independents.

And despite my distaste and rejection of his gimmicky spending freeze idea, Obama scored well last night on the deficit. He also convinced folks that he wasn’t backing away from any issues, and scored well on bringing jobs back home.

These voters were especially pleased to see him express his anger about the behavior of banks that received bailouts, and they accepted the president’s explanation that the banking bailouts were an unpleasant but necessary action for the government to take. These swing voters also focused on Obama’s call to end tax breaks for companies that outsource jobs overseas and his pledge to double exports. They viewed these two issues as closely linked, emphasizing the fact that we need to start “making stuff” in America again if we are going to have any chance of increasing our exports.

In other words, if he had used the bully pulpit more effectively and with more aggression in 2009 against the GOP and the banks, and been a little bit populist, he’d be in better shape now.

Steve :: 6:52 AM :: Comments (9) :: TrackBack (0) :: Digg It!