Obama's team still has time to work on his Labor Day speech since many polls have been released the last few weeks which indicate that their strategy of being reasonable to win the hearts of Independents is not working. Historian Rick Perlstein wrote: "How Democrats Win: Defending the Social Safety Net," which might be a good place to start (hint, hint). A new Pew Research poll came out last week and I wanted to touch on it. Polling for Obama is down for various reasons. but this poll is very interesting because his base and the mythical Independents are unhappy even if the poll shows that he's doing much better than Congress. And lookie here. They want to see some Rocky Marciano jump into the political ring.
Democrats also want Obama to get tougher in his dealings with congressional Republicans. Currently, 57% of Democrats say Obama should challenge the Republicans more often, while 32% say he is handling relations with the GOP about right. In early April, just 39% of Democrats said Obama should do more to challenge Republicans and 47% said said he was handling things about right.
Kevin Drum writes: Independents Finally Getting Fed Up
Jon Chait points out that the results of the latest Pew poll are pretty remarkable:
People always want leaders to compromise. It's amazing that a plurality wants Obama to confront the GOP more strongly. Want to see something even more amazing? You're seeing non-trivial numbers of Republicans say that Obama should stand up to the Republicans.
He's right. It's no surprise that liberal Democrats increasingly want Obama to fight back against Republicans, but that's not the real story here. The biggest shifts in attitude have come from the center. Take a look at the circled parts of the table: the entire middle of the political spectrum — liberal Republicans, independents, and conservative Democrats — is speaking pretty loudly here. They want Obama to fight back harder against the shouters in the tea party wing of the GOP.
As Chait points out, Obama is walking a tightrope: if he does get more confrontational, he risks losing ground in the areas where he's still viewed positively (trustworthy, well-informed, cares about people, etc.). But he better figure out how to walk it. His entire electoral strategy is based on winning the middle, and the middle is getting fed up.
You can see the full Pew poll here. It's interesting reading.
Chait, a writer who at times I have been critical of ends his piece with this.
The question hanging over Obama's political strategy has always been the endgame. His obsession with seeming reasonable makes sense if he uses it as an asset to spend down at the end. You do everything to show your willingness to compromise, and when the opposition refuses and refuses, finally you assail them for their fanaticism. It's harrowing to watch, because we don't know until the last minute whether we're witnessing a rope-a-dope strategy, or just a boxer being beaten to a pulp.
The poll results all say the same thing. Americans are tired of the rope-a-dope stratagem; being more reasonable and looking for a Grand Bargain that reduces the deficit. They want jobs, preferably ones that have a future, unemployment kept available and they want their social safety nets protected from the Norquist Pillagers.
I'll have more on what he can do later....