washington, dc

The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority


The following memo, by James Carville and Stan Greenberg, is cross-posted from DCorps.com:
This is a close presidential race where President Obama and the Democrats still need a good convention to get momentum and define the choice in the election to lock in their 3- or 4-point lead. In our view, that is very likely.
The reason why we think it is important to have a good convention is that the real economy is so difficult that it gives Romney and the Republicans an audience on spending and budgets, even when the country views them with disdain. In the survey we conducted just before the Republican convention, Obama maintained a 2-point lead. But because Republican-leaning independents pay more attention in this period and are a larger portion of the national survey, the survey results are tough: the President fell to 6 points behind Romney and Democrats 9 points behind Republicans on who would do a better job on the economy. That poll shows people struggling in their personal economies, which were weakening further, even as there was more churning in the job market. As a result, the president was barely winning big economic arguments in the survey.
So, we just should not underestimate how difficult it is out there and what we are asking people to do – to support re-election – despite 60 percent thinking the economy is headed in the wrong direction and so many thinking spending and deficits hurt the economy. They are ready to vote for Obama because they know how unique these times are and how much Bush contributed to the mess. They are ready to vote for him because they respect President Obama and are not focused on the past but on what the candidates will do to make things better. They are ready to vote for Obama because they worry about the Republicans’ social agenda and because they truly don’t want a new version of trickle-down economics.
There are reasons why Democrats enjoy a 6-point advantage in party identification and are at parity on who voters trust to handle taxes – both pretty amazing numbers – but revealing on why Obama will likely move back into the lead.
But Democrats need a good convention to make all those dynamics dominant over the material economy. That is why we are writing this list of things Obama can get done at the convention.
Read the full memo from James Carville and Stan Greenberg.

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