Thursday, July 5, 2012


Here is the third issue of Capital Brief, from June 26, focusing on how polling trends could lead to new opportunities, orientations and messaging for Obama's reelection campaign.

Click below to read the Brief.

Capital Brief  
Amy Greene
Capital Brief, n°3 – June 26, 2012

US Elections: Polling Data Opens Door for New Obama Approach


·    In general election polls, Obama and Romney have been locked in a statistical dead heat (cf. Gallup poll released June 1, and others). However, since the beginning of the campaign, Romney has not once overtaken Obama in any major poll.

·       Economy: a recent Gallup poll (June 14) showed that most Americans still blame Bush for the state of the economy (68% vs. 52% for Obama). Almost half of Republicans polled and 67% of the all-important Independents fault Bush.

·     Economy: A majority of Americans believe that neither Obama nor Romney will fix the economy or make their lives better, with about 55% saying that the next president will have little to no impact (Assoc. Press, June 25).

·       Social Issues: An Associated Press poll (June 22) indicates that Americans trust Obama more on social issues (52% Obama vs. 36% Romney). There is a nearly 50/50 split for support of gay marriage, but only 40% of Americans polled indicated they would support its legalization in their states.


·        Voters’ main concern is the economy. They fear their prospects for recovery. Neither Obama nor Romney resonates with the public. This is problematic: think Romney who has touted his business experience (cf. Bain, 2002 Olympics) as a core argument for his election.

·       Obama is in particular position of being unable to run on his record (unpopular health care reform, shaky economic progress). Nonetheless, Americans trust Obama more than Romney to “do the right thing” across multiple issues (Wash. Post, Gallup, Yale polls throughout 2012)

·       Amid deep public pessimism, Obama could elevate the debate, linking the economy to a larger discussion of America’s trajectory, values, and identity. It would likely energize Democratic turnout and offer a viable vision to Independents.

·    America is in a transition phase that began before 2008 and will last past 2012. Growing ideological divides now overlap with the emergence of opposing demographic poles (cf. my article on Boomers v. Millennials at Diploweb).

·      President Obama has an opportunity to frame the election as choice between visions – his, an embrace of tolerance, fairness, mobility (both social and economic), and innovation. The more expansive and fair Obama is on social issues (“on the right side of history”), the more he highlights Republican Party intolerance and forces Romney to choose between the Right Wing and Moderates.