Obama’s Top Strategists Appear To Have Forgotten That The Economy Decides Elections

by on Monday, August 15, 2011 at 12:36 pm in Economy, Politics

Greg Sargent of the Washington Post reminds us that Obama’s new all-time-low approval rating (dipping below 40% for the first time) is less an indicator of a President’s reelection prospects than the state of the economy:

Ronald Reagan started the third year of his presidency with his approval rating at 35 percent, while George H.W. Bush, who went on to lose reelection a year later, had approval ratings in the 50s in August of 1991.

What should worry the Obama administration is the reason Reagan won and Bush lost — economic growth. Strong economic growth in the later stages of the first Reagan administration resulted in his winning reelection by a landslide—while a faltering economy ensured the elder Bush would lose reelection to Bill Clinton.

So Obama supporters should be very concerned when the President’s key political advisers tell the New York Times they remain committed to giving the appearance of addressing the country’s economic free-fall, rather than taking the more difficult — and politically risky — steps required to actually fix it:

Mr. Obama’s senior adviser, David Plouffe, and his chief of staff, William M. Daley, want him to maintain a pragmatic strategy of appealing to independent voters by advocating ideas that can pass Congress, even if they may not have much economic impact. These include free trade agreements and improved patent protections for inventors.

But others, including Gene Sperling, Mr. Obama’s chief economic adviser, say public anger over the debt ceiling debate has weakened Republicans and created an opening for bigger ideas like tax incentives for businesses that hire more workers, according to Congressional Democrats who share that view. Democrats are also pushing the White House to help homeowners facing foreclosure.

Even if the ideas cannot pass Congress, they say, the president would gain a campaign issue by pushing for them.

If Democratic partisans are truly concerned about getting stuck with the ‘greater of two evils’ as their President for the next four years, they might seriously want to reconsider their rationale for NOT primarying this President. 


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