Many voters are still deeply troubled by the economy and aren't persuaded that President Obama has the right policies to heal it, according to a new analysis by two prominent Democratic strategists who advised President Bill Clinton.
"What is clear from this fresh look at public consciousness on the economy is how difficult this period has been for both non-college-educated and college-educated voters—and how vulnerable the prevailing narratives articulated by national Democratic leader are," the analysis says. "We 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."
The analysis goes on: "It is elites who are creating a conventional wisdom that an incumbent president must run on his economic performance—and therefore must convince voters that things are moving in the right direction. They are wrong, and that will fail. The voters are very sophisticated about the character of the economy; they know who is mainly responsible for what went wrong and they are hungry to hear the president talk about the future. They know we are in a new normal where life is a struggle—and convincing them that things are good enough for those who have found jobs is a fool's errand. The want to know the plans for making things better in a serious way—not just focused on finishing up the work of the recovery."
The assessment is based on focus groups conducted by Democracy Corps, a Democrat-oriented research group, of independents and swing voters in Columbus, Ohio, and suburban Philadelphia. Ohio and Pennsylvania are two battleground states that will be pivotal in the November election.
The analysis was from pollster Stan Greenberg and Democratic activist James Carville, both of whom advised Clinton, along with pollster Erica Seifert.
The group says Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is "very vulnerable," partly because voters "do not trust him" and consider him "out of touch with ordinary people."
"But in the current context, it produces a fairly diminished embrace of Obama and the Democrats, the lesser of two evils, without much feeling of hope," the analysis says.
Ken Walsh covers the White House and politics for U.S. News. He writes the daily blog, "Ken Walsh's Washington," on usnews.com, and is the author of "The Presidency" column in the U.S. News Weekly. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Facebook and Twitter.
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