Anna Sale is the host and managing editor of Death, Sex & Money, a biweekly interview podcast at WNYC. A veteran public media reporter, Anna covered politics for years, including the 2013 New York City mayoral race, the 2012 presidential campaign, and the statehouse beat in Connecticut and West Virginia. She is a frequent fill-in host for The Brian Lehrer Show and The Leonard Lopate Show and has contributed to This American Life, NPR, Marketplace, Studio 360, PBS Newshour, and Slate.
Obama's Economic Ideas are Popular, So Why isn't He?
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
"This is not class warfare. It's math." That was President Obama's blunt assessment of why higher taxes have to be a part of his proposal to Congress to decrease the deficit by $3 trillion over ten years and pay for his $400 billion jobs bill proposal.
That kind of straight talk is a surefire hit for on Twitter, but it's not proven too effective at winning the confidence of the American people. Obama's handling of the economy and his general standing among American adults scored an all-time low in the Wall Street Journal's poll at the end of August, and things haven't improved much in surveys taken after his jobs address are any indication. Even though Obama particular proposals are popular among those polled, they don't give good odds to the president's ability to get his proposals passed, and more importantly, to improve the economy and create jobs.
For example, consider this: in a Bloomberg poll of Americans conducted after Obama's jobs address to Congress earlier this month, 52 percent said that the president doesn't have a clear plan, and 51 percent said taht the president's jobs bill package of tax cuts, aid to local government and infrastructure spending won't help lift the employment rate.
But they expressed enthusastic support for some of key aspects to that plan: 71 percent support that local aid to prevent teacher and police layoffs. In a New York Times/CBS News poll last week, 80 percent agreed that it's a good idea to invest in infrastructure projects right now, and 81 percent support cutting taxes for small businesses.
And even on the hot button question of letting Bush-era tax cuts expire for householders earning more than $250,000, 56 percent told the NYT poll and 54 told Bloomberg that they support that. That's in line with how Americans polled about a year ago on the same question, before Obama signed a bill to re-up the Bush-era tax cuts as part of a deal with Republicans at the end of 2010.
This mixed political bag comes at a time when Obama's standing with key constituencies in his coalition are on the decline. After Republican Bob Turner's win in New York's heavily Jewish 9th Congressional District, much was made about Obama's declining standing with Jewish voters.
While Obama's support among Jews is falling, a Gallup poll last week found that the gap between his approval rating among Jews and the nation overall “is essentially no different” than the trends throughout his term. More than a third of Obama supporters told Bloomberg pollsters last week that they still like Obama -- just not as much as before. The Wall Street Journal poll at the end of August showed how Obama's slipping favor broke down among key constituencies:
Some 56% of women voters supported Mr. Obama in the 2008 campaign; now, 43% back his re-election. Support among white voters has fallen from 43% in 2008 to 31% in the most recent poll, and support among independents has collapsed from 52% in 2008 to 26% today. Two-thirds of Hispanic voters supported Mr. Obama in 2008. Barely a majority, 51%, now say they will vote for him.
Obama also fared poorly among independent voters in the latest NYT poll, with 59 percent registering their disapproval, though as we've reported, it's difficult to pin down exactly what these independent voters want from Obama. That could explain why the White House's efforts to seize the political center over the last year have failed to get Obama back in their good graces.