Democratic memo: a sliver of hope amid mostly gloomy data

Jon Ward Contributor
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Get ready to hear many times between now and Nov. 2 that Democrats are “on your side.”

That’s a key phrase recommended in a polling memo released Tuesday by veteran Democratic strategists James Carville and Stan Greenberg.

Democrats hope that they may be able to capitalize on a slight brightening in public opinion about the economy. The number of respondents among the 1,225 polled who think the country is on the wrong track dropped from 62 percent to 57 percent in the last month.

While this turn toward optimism is only within their base, Carville and Greenberg indicate this may be a way to close the enthusiasm gap that has bedeviled Democrats so far this election cycle.

“Every issue has to reinforce that Democrats stand for the middle class and Republicans for the big corporations,” the memo says.

But the memo has a raft of bad news for Democrats. Here are the low points:

  • “Our research shows over and over again that the president’s narrative – ‘it’s starting to work’ – drives disaffected voters away from Democrats on the economy.”
  • “When evaluating which party could do a better job handling a variety of economic issues the Democrats continue to match-up terribly. Republicans hold a 6-point advantage on being better able to handle the economy, 8 points on handling the budget deficit, and 17 points on government spending (their widest advantage on this measure to date). But the Democrats do have a 4-point advantage on the measure of ‘being on your side’ and this is important.”
  • “The congressional vote remains stable at 43 to 45 percent for the named Democratic candidate against the Republican. The gaping difference with 2006 and 2008 is the vote preference among independents, currently a 2-1 advantage for the Republicans (52 to 26 percent).”
  • “The voter mood at the moment is deeply contradictory or ambivalent, creating an opportunity to change what the main battle is about. A majority of 52 percent believe the best way to improve or economy and create jobs is to cut government spending and cut taxes so business can prosper and the private sector can start creating jobs. Only 42 percent opt for the alternative to invest more to put people to work, develop new industries and help businesses grow in expanding, new areas. We have lost ground in this argument as the recession and legislative process has continued.”
  • “The biggest evidence of the disjunction between economic and political churning is the growing number of respondents who believe that Obama’s plans have not worked, while running up the deficit: today by 43 to 51 percent, people think his plans have failed, up from a 45 to 48 percent difference last summer.”

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