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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

New Poll Suggests 2012 Strategy for Obama, Dems

Chuck Todd, Mark Murray, Domenico Montanaro, and Ali Weinberg have an interesting post up at MSNBC’s First Read. They report on a new survey pollster Peter Hart calls “fortifying and frightening” for President Obama’s reelection prospects, which should help illuminate his reelection strategy.
The good news for the president and for Dems hoping to ride his coattails:

NBC co-pollster Peter Hart (D) perhaps best sums up our latest NBC survey after bin Laden’s death…The president’s foreign-policy and Afghanistan handlings have hit all-time highs, while his leadership, decision-making, and commander-in-chief ratings have all increased.
…The NBC poll’s table of presidential attributes gives us a good idea on what has changed for Obama since bin Laden’s death and what hasn’t. The biggest increases: being firm and decisive (an 11-point jump from last December), having the ability to handle a crisis (11 points), being a good commander-in-chief (10 points), and uniting the country (10 points).
…Among suburban women — always a key demographic group — 55% now approve of the president’s job, and 50% say they will probably vote for him in 2012.

The not so good numbers address, as the authors note “His economic handling — attributed largely to the high gas prices — has reached an all-time low….a reminder of just how potent the issue of gas prices are right now.”
Overall, however, President Obama’s prospects are modestly encouraging, according to the poll.

…Obama’s job approval stands at 52% (a three-point increase from April) and his generic re-elect stands at 45% (up two points from last month; more interestingly, though, the “definite” vote for the Republican went DOWN eight points). As co-pollster Bill McInturff adds, these numbers underscore the “tremendous anchor the economy is to the president’s job standing.” Bottom line: The president acquired SOME political capital, but not as much as history suggests…

The post notes that Obama has 43 percent approval with ‘Independents,’ and the authors cite Hart’s belief that weak support among Indies is a serious problem for Obama. But nowadays it’s more of a catch-all category composed of disparate voters across the political spectrum. It’s all but impossible to formulate a unified strategy targeting ‘Independent’ voters. Still, it’s a number Obama wants to see increase between now and November 2012, perhaps by targeting segments of the category (e.g. youth, environmentalists, self-employed).
Of course the hope is that Obama’s high marks for strong leadership in the wake of the bin Laden raid will become generalized and supported by improving economic statistics. Polls can be helpful in formulating strategy at particular political junctures, but the numbers the President — and Dems — most want to see as 2012 approaches are declining gas prices and a lower unemployment rate.

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