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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Now, Exactly How Did You Say You Were Going to Fix the Economy?

In The Washington Post this morning, Dan Balz looked at the Democratic Presidential candidates’ “missed target”: the economy. Balz says that the candidates “have failed to make the economy a consistent and coherent focus of their messages” and that their critiques of Bush on the economy have “added up to little because no one has a full-blown economic program. Even Dick “Big Ideas” Gephardt doesn’t really have an economic program–just the dubious claim that the stimulative effects of his near-universal health care program constitute a blueprint for economic revival.
This seems kind of strange since polls regularly show that Americans are very negative about the economy and rate it as the number one problem the country faces today. Not only that but Bush’s approval rating on the economy–in contrast to his overall approval rating–is quite abysmal, with disapproval generally higher than disapproval. So what is the Democrats’ response to this apparent demand for economic change: let them eat health care!
Wierd. And voters don’t seem to be too enthusiastic about this approach either. In a recent NPR poll, voters who said that the economy and jobs was their most important issue actually favored Bush over a generic Democrat by one point! Looks like the Democrats have some work to do. A reasonable guess might be that unless the Democratic presidential candidate–whoever he might be–can win among economy and jobs voters by at least 10 points (and preferably quite a bit more), he’s toast.