Obama’s Economy Helps Democrats, Says Wasserman Schultz

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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The Obama economy will help Democrats in the November election, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schulz told reporters Wednesday.

“No question the economic issues are an advantage for Democrats,” Wasserman Schultz, head of the Democratic National Committee, said at a May 7 breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor.

The GOP’s attempts to repeal Obamacare, and its support for the budget plan drafted by Rep. Paul Ryan, show “Republicans are focused on making sure a select few are able to do even better,” she said.

But she latter admitted that her constituents are unhappy with President Obama’s economy, even as she spun the admission to highlight Democrats’ spending plans. Voters, she said, “are asking about investing in education, focusing on continuing to create jobs, on making housing more affordable, the bread and butter kitchen table issues that will add to the confidence that Americans have that this economy is continuing to improve.”

“There is certainly room for improvement” in the economy, she acknowledged, as she downplayed a river of bad economic news about income, the middle-class, the widening wealth gapmore use of foreign workers, and the rising number of people who have lost hope for economic change.

She also tried to downplay the impact of the voters’ sour mood on the upcoming November election.

“The national mood is not as relevant,” she said, after she was asked about recent polls that show the GOP ahead in the November race.

A survey released May 5 shows that 47 percent of registered voters lean toward the GOP, compared to 44 percent who leaned toward the GOP prior to their blowout victory in March 2010, according to the April survey by the Pew Research Center and USA Today. Only 43 percent of voters in May leaned towards the Democrats, the survey said.

The survey also showed that 44 percent of independents favored the GOP’s economic policies, while only 32 percent favored President Obama’s policies.

To keep their majority in the Senate past the 2014 midterms, Democrats are using narrow messages to boost the turnout of specific constituency groups, such as African-Americans, Latinos, single women, gays and environmentalists.

For example, Obama has appealed to African-Americans by spiking media debates over a botched execution in Oklahoma and over private comments by the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers basketball team. Wasserman Schultz followed suit, saying the GOP wants to rig elections against minorities.

In contrast, the GOP’s leadership tends to focus attention on broader issues, such as the economy and the government’s increasing role in health care, that appeal to mainstream middle-class voters. GOP leaders also play down major issues that anger those voters, such as the business-backed effort to boost the unpopular inflow of immigrants and guest-workers.

“I don’t discount the [national] mood — that’s quite likely the mood at the time when the question is asked … [but] it’s not necessarily a really accurate reflection of what the outcome, especially in a midterm, will look like,” Wasserman Schultz said at the breakfast.

“There isn’t a generic candidate on the ballot,” Wasserman Schultz continued.

“There’s a real person on the ballot. … voters in those polls aren’t actually asked the question that they’re going to be facing when they walk in the ballot box. … that’s a totally different story,” she stated.

“What I am focused on is making sure the ground game of our candidates is second to none…. on issue after issue it is the Democratic incumbent … that has overwhelming support on the issues that matter and that will be drawing people to the polls on election day.”

Later, she narrowed her focus to “the issues that matter in the most competitive races,” including governors’ races in Pennsylvania, Maine and Florida, and “vulnerable senators.”

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