Paul Holmes 05 Nov 2010 // 10:42AM GMT
Some random thoughts on the midterm elections. First, voters were asked who was to blame for the economic crisis. The answer: bankers (34 percent), Bush (29 percent), Obama (24percent). The interesting thing: Of those who blame bankers, Republicans hold an 11 point advantage. So those who blame bankers plan to vote for the party that opposed even the mildest re-regulation of the banking industry, and now say they want to repeal what regulation did pass. Second, this: asked about their budgetary priorities in an exit poll, 40 percent favored deficit reduction, 35 percent favored “spending to create jobs” and 19 percent were in favor of “cutting taxes.” So Americans want a stimulus—spending and/or tax cuts—that doesn’t increase the deficit. In other words, they want the impossible. But the majority of them (54 percent) was pretty much the mix of spending and tax cuts that went into the Obama stimulus package. Third, It’s probably not smart to challenge Burson-Marsteller CEO and Democratic pollster Mark Penn on his home territory, but I think he’s mistaken in this call for President Obama to move to the center. Democrats didn’t lose the House because of the perception that they had moved too far to the left. They lost the House because of the reality that unemployment is high and the economy continues to struggle. Unemployment is high and the economy continues to struggle primarily because the stimulus package that Obama was able to pass in the first few months of his presidency was too small. And the stimulus was too small because Obama moved to the center in a futile attempt to secure bipartisan support. The only thing that matters between now and the presidential election in 2010 is whether the economy is turned around. The voters—unlike professional analysts and commentators—are entirely focused on results. Unfortunately, turning the economy around just got a whole lot more difficult. The Republicans have no interest in the kind of spending that might create jobs; the tax cut extension they want will grow the deficit more dramatically than anything Obama did in his first two years; and they have an interest in prolonging the misery, because the more miserable the country is in two years time, the lower the President’s prospects for a second term.