A new Democracy Corps research report – based on focus groups of independent voters and prepared by consultant James Carville, pollster and analyst Stan Greenberg, and their associate Erica Seifert – starkly warns that the Obama campaign’s economic message must be revised and strengthened, or else. To claim that the economy is improving when middle-class voters feel intense pressure on jobs, wages, and income only alienates them. But the same report noted that the same voters who feel dispirited and disappointed see no real alternative in Republican Mitt Romney, whose attitudes and policies they strongly distrust.
From lengthy interviews in late May with groups of non-college educated men and women in Columbus, OH, and college-educated men and women in Bala Cynwyd, PA – many of them Obama supporters in 2008 – the Democracy Corps analysts found that their party “will face an impossible headwind in November if we do not move to a new narrative, one that contextualizes the recovery but, more importantly, focuses on what we will do to make a better future for the middle class…”
Frustration and growing pessimism over the Obama administration’s economic performance are influencing voters whose families are struggling. Yet the president remains competitive despite weak employment and stagnant incomes because those same voters “do not trust” Romney, not only because of his personal wealth and elitist demeanor, but because they reject the Republican budget and tax policies that he has endorsed. Unfortunately for Obama, that negative sense of his opponent has not translated into any great enthusiasm for his reelection among these groups, described by the consultants as “independents or weak partisans and ticket-splitters – swing independent voters,” even divided between 2008 Obama and McCain voters.