So finds the new Bloomberg poll:
Which of the following approaches is more likely to be successful in growing the U.S. economy and creating jobs?
Spending cuts and tax cuts will give businesses more confidence to hire: 57
Government needs to keep spending at current level now becaue the job market is so weak: 13
Government needs to spend more to stimulate the economy: 23
Fifty seven percent believes in what Paul Krugman has labeled the “confidence fairy,” i.e., the GOP argument that cutting spending will create jobs by restoring business confidence. Only 23 percent think more spending is in order. This bolsters the case, made by me and many others, that Dems have essentially lost the argument over whether government can create jobs, a problem that’s partly of their own making, because they’ve essentially endorsed the conservative economic vision by aggreeing to fight it out on the GOP’s austerity/cut-cut-cut turf.
But I think there’s another point to be drawn from the Bloomberg poll: The degree to which voter opinion is in flux on the larger ongoing arguments between conservatives and liberals.
For instance: In addition to the confidence fairy, the poll also shows broad public agreement with conservatives on other fronts. An abysmal 33 percent approve of Obama on the economy. Fifty-one percent say Obama’s economic plan will not help create jobs.
But the poll also shows broad agreement with liberals, too. Forty-six percent see jobs as the most important issue facing the country, while a meager 18 percent identifies government spending and an even lower 12 percent identifies deficit reduction. Obama edges Republicans on who has the better vision for the economy, 43-41. A whopping 71 percent favor federal aid to states to avert layoffs of teachers and cops. Fifty-one percent say the deficit “supercommittee” should focus on hiking taxes on the rich, versus only 35 percent who want the focus on entitlements cuts.
In other words, while there’s no sugar-coating Obama’s terrible numbers on the economy, and while the picture is dark for liberals, the bad economy has left voter opinion volatile, complex, not easily categorized, and not fixed in stone. As many others have observed, the consequences of the volatility of the present moment are unpredictable. All of which is to say that the sustained argument Obama is about to initiate with his planned jobs offensive — which will help define Campaign 2012 — has a great deal riding on it.