Report: White House Economic Message Bombs with Voters

Dem pollsters note “stubbornness” of party’s weakness

February 24, 2012

The drawn out Republican primary and the steady rise of President Obama’s approval rating has given many Democrats reason to feel confident about the 2012 election.

But a new report from a group of Democratic pollsters offers a sobering assessment of the party’s prospects heading into November.

The report, prepared by Democratic heavyweights Stanley Greenberg and James Carville, found that 56 percent of likely voters believe "the economy is not moving in the right direction and we need a change." Just 40 percent believe "the economy is moving in the right direction and we shouldn’t be doing things that disrupt the recovery."

When it comes to which party voters most trust to handle economic issues, the report found Republicans lead Democrats 44 to 40 percent.

"Voters are still very negative about the economy and their lives," the report states. "The stubbornness of the Democrats’ disadvantage on the economy should be a lesson if they are really to prevail."

The pollsters also tested a number of specific elements of the Obama administration’s messaging on the economy, including some of the slogans the president used during last month’s State of the Union address. The results were underwhelming.

"Based on the State of the Union dial group research and this new national survey, we have to say the jury is out on the Democrats’ current economic narratives," they write.

In particular, the president’s phrase "America is back" was poorly received.

"America is back," Obama declared in his address to Congress. "Anyone who tells you otherwise, anyone who tells you that America is in decline or that our influence has waned, doesn’t know what they’re talking about."

The pollsters report that voters of all political persuasions did not respond well to the message:

Claiming that "America is back" is by far the weakest operative message and produces disastrous results.  It is weaker than even the weakest Republican message and is 10 points weaker in intensity than either Republican message.  Overall, less than a third of all voters said this message makes them more likely to support the President and a third said this message made them less likely to support Barack Obama.  Alarmingly, this message barely receives majority support among self-identified Democrats—and even less support among all other groups.  Less than a quarter of independents say this message would make them more likely to support the President and no independents said that it would make them much more likely to support him.

Read the entire report here.