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Dem Pollster to Obama: Don’t Campaign on Economic Achievements

That advice shouldn’t be too hard to follow, considering President Obama’s economic approval rating is at a record low. But the president has been touting his job creation “successes” during his stump speeches, as Time magazine notes. Democratic pollster Stanley Greenberg tells the magazine this strategy could end up backfiring on Obama:

“No one is going to give you much credit for what you have done for this recovery,” says Greenberg, who has been testing messages in focus groups and polls for Democrats to use in the coming election. “Saying the economy is starting to make progress is bad.” …

When Greenberg tested messages trumpeting the recent rebound, or blaming the economy on Republican mismanagement before 2008, the results were dismal, he says. Voters did not want to hear it. They responded more positively to messages about long-term fixes, like rebuilding the middle class and taking on China, or moving beyond the politics of blame.

This raises some serious problems for Obama’s reelection campaign. It’s been clear for awhile blaming the Republicans for the economic crisis is a poor strategy, but at least that would allow the president to avoid discussing his own failure to reboot the economy. Messages about long-term solutions are great, but the American people have given Obama the past few years to implement these fixes. If he has these solutions, why hasn’t he gone ahead with them? And why should we trust him if  his previous policies haven’t worked?

Obama is in a bind for 2012. Without being able to point to accomplishments in office, it will be difficult for him to make the case for reelection. And focusing solely on solutions for the future doesn’t seem logical either, considering the president hasn’t succeeded at getting us out of our current crisis. While Greenberg’s polling seems to suggest forward-looking messaging is the best strategy for Obama, simply arguing he’ll do better next time just doesn’t seem convincing to voters.


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