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Tuesday, January 15, 2019

What follows is excerpted from It’s the Middle Class, Stupid! — the new book by legendary consultants James Carville and Stan Greenberg, which offers a fascinating melange of very candid discussion between the authors, along with graphs, pie charts, and original public-opinion surveys conducted by Greenberg, one of the nation’s foremost pollsters.  They argue that the 2012 election should be –and for Democrats must be — about the present condition and future prospects of the middle class, not deficits and austerity. Supportive of the President but certainly not uncritical, Carville and Greenberg outline below a strategy for Obama and the Democrats to win back voters in November still feeling pained by the slow economic recovery:

Stan We really do feel good about our chances, because Democrats do have a story to tell. What story they tell may decide what happens in November—and what is the mandate for action at the end of this year and in 2013…

James This is how I would do it: I’d tell people the basic truth that there are two things going on here at the same time. Sure, the economy is getting better and some people are beginning to feel the benefits of that. But for every one person who’s feeling it, there are ten who don’t. You have to address the needs and fears of those people. If you run only on the first part—that there are people who are feeling better about their situation—you’re telling the other ten that you don’t understand their lives.

I understand the temptation for the president: It’s human nature for anyone in a leadership position, whether it’s a businessperson or a politician, to take credit for something positive. The tendency, then, is to say, “Look—the economy’s getting better!” It’s true, it really is. But it wasn’t in a very good place to start with.

Let’s say you’re 50 and out of work right now and feeling like you’re a long way from finding anything. Or you’re lucky enough to be working but you’re feeling the effects of the lower wages that are on offer in this economy. People who are working are just happy to have a job, and it’s going to be tough for a lot of them to reconcile their own situations with a message of economic rebound from the president.

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Stan We accept that there is a story there building on what Bush did to the country and what Obama did and the budget choices ahead, but in the end, it is a weak economic message, at odds with the long-term economic problems, full of serious economic and political risks, as Romney contests whether America is really back. The story also reduces the need for a serious policy agenda.

James It’s a problem that voters have with politicians. They see the person come in and shuffle a lot of stuff around and there’s a modest change and it gets blown up out of proportion to the issues that remain. If I were the president, I’d acknowledge the 220,000 people who got jobs one month but then I’d focus entirely on the 13 million who didn’t. I know we differ on that. He wants to talk about the areas where we’re doing okay, and not the many who are still struggling.

Stan We tested the two key parts of this story [with focus groups], the jobs record and the optimistic assertion that America is back. They do not move the needle: just 44 percent said the crisis-recovery message and progress on jobs made them more likely to support the president—well below his vote and no stronger than the Republican messages on the economy. Our monthly economic tracking measures on unemployment, salaries and benefits, health care insurance, and reentering the labor market have still not improved even a point, despite voter recognition of the macro gains…

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35 responses to “James Carville and Stan Greenberg’s New Book: It’s The Middle Class, Stupid!

  1. The middle class, and probably those who consider themselves Independents, will probably be the deciding factor in November. I expect both sides to focus on the root causes for our weak economy with little to offer when it comes to specificity. Expect lots of ads from the GOP blaming President Obama’s policies, alleged high taxes, regulation and accumulation of debt as the culprits for our economic woes. The administration will remind voters that the Great Recession began in 2008, the President Bush suggested the potential collapse of the U.S. economy when he proposed the TARP (bank bailout), that the TARP and the cost of running two wars account for much of the accumulation of debt and, most importantly, that electing a man whose record involves closing plants in the USA, recommending outsoucing to reduce operating costs and increase profits, and then hit his considerable fortune overseas to avoid paying Uncle Sam his fair share. Romney is making the latter easy by refusing to release his tax returns.

  2. jarheadgene says:

    OOOOORAHHH !!!! I love it…..IT IS THE MIDDLE CLASS….ROMoNEY doesn’t know us or how to identify with us. We are the peons that can easily be replaced by cheaper work overseas.

  3. tokoloshi27 says:

    Where to start? Goebbels and Molotov just wrote a book about faking out the U.S. public, now they are pitching it. For our own good no doubt. This seems all spin, correcting the appearance of a zealot President and spinning his challenger as an out of touch elitist. One can’t help but think that ‘methinks they dost protest too much’ on who (plural) is actually the out of touch elitist.

    Beyond an emphatic “pox on both their houses”, this is self-serving pap. “They will own all of their inexplicable efforts to block affordable and universal education, to undermine our systems of retirement and health care for the middle class, and they’ll sit out there on the golden margins complaining with the richest people just how unfair life is.” What use is “universal education” if it is hopelessly inadequate; a convoy moves at the speed of the slowest ship and by not recognizing a) that some people are unsuited for ‘academic’ instruction and b) by holding the other end of the bell-curve in convoy with the rest of their age-mates we destroy their will or desire to excel; they are determined to ignore the fundamental destructiveness in their approach to what they see as a simple right.

    Those people & opinions that they dismiss as ‘marginal’ are at the core, citizens that have consistently made the elections since Reagan very close; close enough that to win they recognize (both parties) that they need only throw money at a very few swing voters who may be swayed by one or more ‘golden BBs’ in the form of talking-point concepts that may (and usually do) wildly mis-state the particulars of certain matters.

  4. William Deutschlander says:

    The Obama Administration saved the U S A Economy and World Economy from the G W Buch Admin. Republican Cartel Great Recession of 2008!

    Without ANY ASSISTANCE from the Republican Cartel, in fact their answer is “NO”!

    The Obama Admin. is working to rebuild our ECONOMY so that our ECONOMY can provide INCOME and EMPLOYMENT opportunity for the middle class and those in more need than the middle class, in fact the Obama Admin. is building an ECONOMY that will support and sustain the MAJORITY of AMERICAN CITIZENS.

    REBUILDING OUR ECONOMY, after the G W Bush Republican Cartel Great Recession of 2008, is a VERY DIFFICULT UNDERTAKING and will take time and understanding. To provide a measure of reference, after the Republican Depression of 1930, we built a Military Industrial Complex to counter the GERMAN uncertainty, and it took 20 years for our Economy to recover even with the defense investment. If the Republican Cartel will work with Congress we should have a vivacious Economy working for the MAJORITY of American Citizens, during the next four years with an Obama Admin. With a Romney Admin. we will not see an economic recovery in the next decade, only the slim MINORITY will benefit!

    • bcarreiro says:

      It’s the little people (any class american) they stomped to get there.

    • In addition to wiping out the budget surplus he inherited and resuming deficit spending within a year of taking office, former President Bush has the dubious distinction of only adding 1 million jobs during his 8 years in office. Incredibly, or perhaps not, the GOP is criticizing President Obama’s ability to help create 4 million new jobs during his 3.5 years in office. Obviously, we need more jobs to keep pace with demographic changes, but it is worth remembering who blocked President Obama’s proposal to invest in infrastructure to create more jobs at a time when a lot of Americans are unemployed, and to make sure our country is able to compete against other developed nations in the 21st century.

  5. Hold the slimy bastard responsible that sold us out to China…. Kissinger?? Made in America that is the ONLY avenue we have for a step towards recovery.
    Ask your “middle class” shoppers in the Macys and JC Penney stores. I collect market data. People are NOT interested in buying jeans from China with an American label on them.
    They would gladly pay more knowing it put their neighbor in California back to the old Levi factory to work. Get real… USA Olympic uniforms made in China… there’s my message…
    Make it more expensive to send the work overseas and watch the American economy double back to the good times.
    How come Washington doesn’t get this?

    • I went to great lengths to find and buy an American made bike tens years ago. It runs as well as it did when I bought, can’t say the same for the rider…I suspect that Washington and our business community are well aware of that, but special interest, and a desire to make as much profit as possible, often takes precedence over patriotism and common sense. I think it is also important to remember that most of “our” corporations are actually multi-nationals, owned by Sheiks in Saudi Arabia or entrepreneurs in Germany, Japan or China, loyal only to their shareholders. To an investor and a CEO we are nothing more than pawns in a chess game to be sacrificed to achieve corporate goals.

      • DurdyDawg says:

        But you can’t blame them exclusively.. Little media exposure (via commercials) come from these companies (walmart, etc.) thus their overall success hinges on consumers’ spreading the word.. By not boycotting, by not making an issue and embarrassing the owners.. Simply refrain from shopping at these stores and if you must then read labels and refuse to buy anything but American.. Don’t nag, don’t threaten.. Just do it. They will get the point when they audit and discover American is selling while over seas products are stumbling. Soon a clearance then nothing but American.. But we have to be elephants and never forget our achievement else it will ooze through the back door over night. It’s the consumer that’s keeping ‘Made in China’ thriving. Industry believes in success.. Let’s show them we’re all American and in a shot, these over seas jobs will return as the owners desert their host as quickly as they once deserted us. Your right, CEO’s see us as pawns and naive buying zombies but no matter how big the CEO.. Profit rules.. Creating simulated interest wanes and buying only American will make or break these desk toads. I may be naive myself but what’s our alternative? WE have to do the thinking for these industry pimps. WE have to show THEM what we want, not what they want for us.

        • The sad truth is that it is becoming increasingly difficult to find items made in the USA, especially when you are shopping for electronic gadgets. We have allowed, and sometimes even rewarded companies for outsourcing jobs to reduce cost and find new markets, for decades and we are now paying a heavy price for our myopic policies. Instead of blaming unions and the boogeyman we should take a look at ourselves and change the way we o things, whenever we can. On the issue of unions, I am a former manager who participated in several bargaining unit negotiations and I don’t have anything in favor or against organized labor. There is no question that they added cost to our products, but why are countries such as Germany able to compete effectively in spite of having strong unions and we can’t. I wish the GOP would expand on their anti-union rhetoric and tell us what they have in store for our workers.

          • DurdyDawg says:

            Yes, I can see the difficulty in what you say, especially when it becomes a part of American products like ford, chevy, dodge, westinghouse and other once looked up to industries but we can refrain from blatant products that yell, “made in china’.. And about the unions and what is in store for the middle class, I’ve been in two and I was grateful that I was getting my fair share according to the profit margin of the company I worked for even though I was (forced?) to pay dues.. Even though the products rose in price because they were paying us a living salary but didn’t want to totally sacrifice their bloated profit margin thus they were forced to raise prices (which they would have eventually raised anyway.. tell me I’m wrong). The fact is, our g’ment (whether it be pub or dem) is trying or at least championing this union destruction so that big b’ness will come back with the power to dictate what each employee receives in pay and you can bet it will be just this short of minimum wage plus all benefits become vapor.. Oh yes, I understand their scheme and it doesn’t relate to the workers. True, the union big wigs have become corrupt but this occurs in any industry where human control is prominent and a simple cleaning of house and demanding advocacy else face the same fate would lessen this corruption . Once we lose the unions, we lose the only advocate working for us.. We will then be at the disposal of the big CEO toads. Not all companies will treat their workers with disrespect but the majority will never get a chance to meet them as those jobs will be (as it once was) passed down from father to son. We will have no voice except of our own lamentation. Thus the new generation, never having had to toil under capitalism by overlords simply nag about their dues that takes away from them, not realizing that this ‘taking’ away will become part of their future working lives because the current pay scale (above minimum wage) will dissolve swiftly and all benefits eliminated and if you don’t like it, you can (and will) be replaced without warning and as a matter of fact, if at any time THEY don’t like you, they can without due process, fire you on the spot (that’s the true definition of ‘right to work’ which applies more to the employer than the employee). It’s going to be chaotic for the simple fact that when the union dies there will be no coming back. I’m just glad I’m retired.

      • Don says:

        Many fruits come from Chili year around including blueberries and other berry good that we can only produce part of the year.

    • For every piece that is produced overseas there needs to be a tax put on the Company having it made, Do not tax the consumer, The company needs to pay an import tax out of the profits they make. I know this is unrealistic, but if the politicians (honest ones, if there are any) would suggest this and put it up for vote by the people. The politicians would learn how to run this country. This country is supposed to be run “by the people”, Now the fat cats are afraid of losing, so they have to mess up our voting rights as well. I have tried to buy MADE IN AMERICA, cannot find anything anywhere. Washington does’nt want to get this, because every greasy hand is in someones pocket.

      • Don says:


      • You fail to realize that corporations actually don’t pay taxes, they pass any tax imposed on them to the consumer, if you tax them $1.oo per product they will increase the price of the product $1.oo. the only entity that would benfit would be the tax collector.

    • DurdyDawg says:

      Two loud and loathsome words: KICK BACKS!!

    • Right – the people who are whining most about Marxism are the people who are making most in China. Anything than can float or fly to America is being outsourced to China, everything that can be sold or downloaded from a call centre is being outsourced to India. It used to be called social dumping – now it’s called globalisation. Congratulations America, Lincoln said you could only be defeated from within. Your speculators and power junkies have now made it happen. B t w I’m a Yorkshireman but our Conservative-Liberal government and the previous Labour government are only one WC flush behind you.

  6. bcarreiro says:

    Heres a book that takes 2 hrs read:” Who moved my cheese” maybe Congress can read that and learn what the stalemate of year award goes to….Rep. Boehner and the fat ratts that follow him~ enjoy

  7. ObozoMustGo says:

    In other words… Obozo should disguise himself better and hide his Marxist ideology from America so he can get re-elected and inflict more damage to our Constitution, erode liberty and freedom further, create more dependency, and completely tear America down in the world.

    See how nice I am! I just saved all of you useful idiots and leftist nutjobs $25 so you dont have to buy that stupid book.

    Have a nice day!

    • johninPCFL says:

      Since when is using existing industry Marxism? Your ignorance knows no bounds.

    • UTGDI says:

      Ah ObozoMustGo, my Conservative Constitutional Libertarian friend, I fear your obsessive name calling to anyone that disagrees with you is becoming a chronic condition. If an idea does not fully embrace the hands off free market can do what ever it wants economic model, it is not by definition marxist. It might just be a happy medium, where the country can benefit from the “free” market system with a level of regulation to ensure that many are benefitted, not just the select few.

      The erosion of liberty and freedom is definitely an issue to be guarded against. Some would argue President Bush and Congress’ kneejerk reaction to pass the Patriot Act during the Post 9/11 session of congress did more to erode personal liberties than anything this administration has since done.

      That is focusing on the past. What will the candidates vying for the Presidency this time around do to secure and protect those liberties. What is the vision for the country in the future? Finally do they have a plan? These are the questions I ask.

      Telling me “That guy sucks!” No matter how loudly you yell it, does not in itself persuade me to vote for you, or your candidate. Your guy / gal may “suck” worse, but just has not had the opportunity to do any damage yet.

      • ObozoMustGo says:

        Hello UT! I hope you are well. The obsessive name calling is not really “obsessive”. Is it considered “obsessive” to call people from New York “New Yorkers”? Of course not. I’m just calling them what they are. It’s not a bad thing. It may be somewhat derogatory, but hey, sometimes the truth hurts. I can’t help that. 🙂

        While we may appear to be at far ends of the spectrum in our discussions here, we most likely are not if you are NOT a committed leftist and socialist, or America hating liberal. If you are one of those, we have ZERO common ground. The rest of us can debate the proper role of the Federal government and most likely find more areas to agree on than disagree. But, all debate does begin with the philosophical and ideological opposite poles. While I support maximum economic freedom, I certainly don’t disagree with the need for some regulatory apparatus in many cases. Surely we need an FDA to standardize the approval process for drug makers as well as the fact that we need the USPTO to safeguard private property in the form of inventions. Certainly we need an SEC for standardization of reporting for publicly held and traded companies. It’s a matter of degree, frankly.

        Regarding the Patriot Act… I will admit that I thought it was a good idea at the time following 911, but have since changed my mind. I also find it quite funny, though, that you all on the left who screamed so loud during the Bush years are oddly quiet when it comes to Obozo’s renewal of it, and in fact, the The NDAA is twice as strong and 10 times as much an assault on our liberties than the Patriot Act was. What do I hear from you guys on the left and the useful idiots at The Memo? Crickets…. crickets…… crickets….. crickets…..

        The choice this November is simple. We already know that Obozo is a big centralized government, borrow and spend guy with socialist/collectivist tendencies. We know that Mitt Romney is not anything like Obozo. He is not my ideal candidate. But he’s a hell of a lot less risk that 4 more years of Obozo. that is for sure.

        Have a nice evening, UT!

    • DukeDacat says:

      OMG…….. You are a ASSHOLE…………………………….

      Have a nice day!

    • cabadas says:

      bozo where do you get your facts idiot, you must of really have benefit from the bush years.

      • ObozoMustGo says:

        cab…. let’s see… hmmmm…. Why do I know that Obozo is a Marxist? Maybe because there are many facts that are known that prove this conclusion. Things like:

        1) Obozo’s sire from British East Africa (that’s what it was in 1961 despite the fact that his released birth certificate says it was Kenya when Kenya didnt even exist) was a known anti-colonialist and communist sympathizer.
        2) Obozo’s mother was a socialist.
        3) His grandmother who raised him was a socialist.
        4) His mentor Frank Marshall Davis was a socialist revolutionary and card carrying membor of the Communist Party USA.
        5) His own book states that he chose to hang out with the socialist, communists, radical professors, and radical punk music poets.
        6) His attendance at the Black Liberation Theology church of Jeremiah Wright for 20 years.
        7) His association with admitted terrorists and radical revolutionaries Bernadine Dorn and Bill Ayers and the leftists Annenburg Foundation.
        8) His appointment of Van Jones, the card carrying and openly admitted communist.
        9) His appointment of off the charts leftists Cass Sunstein, and the litany of radical socialists and leftists that he has surrounded himself with in his Administration.
        10) His own speeches when he goes off prompter and talks derisively about business owners.
        11) His CONSTANT narrative of class warfare, bourgeois vs. proletariat garbage.

        How many friggin things do you need to see before you realize that the scumbag in the White House is either a) not what you thought he was, or b) is exactly what you want because you too are a radical socialist. Which one is it?

        Have a nice day!

        • cabadas says:

          so many words for a bozo 99.9% wrong. Do you even know what a Marxist is? I don’t because I’ve always live in the USA. If any one was a socialist or a Marxist it’s bush & cheney your favorite guys. Its the kind of policy you like bozo, did a lot of trickle come down to you. Class warfare you say hum, the only class warfare going on here is the greed over people party put that in play. I see plenty bozo but what I don’t see is that if everything you said was true why I ask was this not brought out before he was elected, I paid close attention to the 08 race. All that was wrote above only a few of the things you wrote were even mention.Your such a person that I could not or would not want to know.

          • ObozoMustGo says:

            cabby… you were not aware of any of what I typed because Obozo was CLEARLY given a pass by the mainstream media TV and newspaper outlets. The fact that you dont know much of this is not an indictment of you, but of the press. If they did their job on Obozo half as much as what they are doing to Romney, Hillary would be President. No doubt in my mind. Obozo was raised a socialist and he continues to believe the fundamental tenets of Marx as evidenced in his policies, who he appoints, and what he does. You guys on the left just dont like to admit what is the truth about the man.

            Have a nice day!

  8. Mitt Romney does not understand an economy based on producing goods people will buy. He understands the economy of the financial transaction, the legal scam very well. That is why he is not intrested in infrastruction improvements – they are not necessary to the con. He is not intrested in green energy because speculation on oil futures is more profitable. His vision of our economy includes you and me as people he “loves to fire.”

  9. TheOldNorthChurch says:

    Do you all want to crush China?

    We the Middle Class can do it.

    If we all make it known that beginning October 2012 we will not buy anything made in China period! This is the Christmas Season and the boats are ready to be filled. It would just take 30% of the American consumers to do this. China will be gone by the New Year!

    Think the Olympics are bad? Look at what you are wearing – then make uop your mind to do something about it. Puut the money in your savings account instead.

  10. greghilbert says:

    Carville is an elite Dem propagandist. However much I like his scrappy personality and prefer Dem to Repub, the article is about “the story” Dems should tell in order to get elected.

    I’ve been wondering for two years why Dem propaganda centers on “the middle class”.
    Observe first the concession to the right of “the lower class” as an expendable political liability. Observe second the trumpeting of an illusion that the majority of Americans are “middle class” or that Dems will give them “a shot at it”.
    The inarguable fact, employing any measure of wealth and income distribution, is that wealth and income are still being transferred from the many to the few and that the USA is now a nation comprised of a tiny upper class, a very small middle class, and a massive and growing lower class.

    Carville notes that FDR championed the “forgotten man at the bottom of the economic pyramid,” but goes on to urge championing of the middle class. Why just the middle class?

    I think it reveals the insidious duplicity of the Dem establishment. The audacity of hope indeed.
    The audacity is the ongoing manipulation of the dreams and aspirations of the masses while shoving ever more off the back of the bus by acts of omission and commission, and then promising to do next time what you did not do when you had the White House and a majority in both House and Senate.

    “It’s the Middle Class Stupid!” is about pandering.

    Hey Carville, “It’s About the 99% Stupid!”

    • UTGDI says:

      Its about the 50% + 1 that wins the election in every state. That is what elections are about. Find the “story”, “propoganda”, or whatever else you would like to call it, and if you are really desperate the “Truth” (Sarcasm intended). Then focus on it. It seems recently Former President Clinton gave the Romney campaign a back-handed complement when he noted “They were disciplined in their messaging”.

      I read this article, and that is what I took from it. President Obama’s Campaign needs to find the message (ie “It’s the Middle Class, Stupid”), provide the story to humanize it, then stay on message.

      Ultimately, the idea of “Are you better off, than you were four years ago?” is not going to fly. Playing the blame game will only get you so far, and is a weak defense. So take your “Forward” slogan and place the campaign message on the future.

      Thanks for your time in reading my two cents worth, and many may believe they overpaid.

      • greghilbert says:

        UTGDI, I think your two cents as fairly priced as mine. You are focused on the focus of the article, “the story”, whatever works to gain re-election. I’m focused on what comes after the election of a story. I believe the 99% deserve a great deal better than they got from Repubs, but also from Obama and Dems.

  11. Don says:

    I’m Robin Hood Bain, I take from the poor and give to the rich

  12. Yes it is the middle class . their numbers are shrinking because Obama’s Communist anti business platform is killing business and increasing the number of people dependent on FOOD STAMPS . Right where the PARTY of FOOD STAMPS wants the middle class …by the way is Carville saying the middle class is stupid ? That’s just wrong

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