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ThePlumLIneGS whorunsgov plumline
Posted at 05:23 PM ET, 05/31/2012

Democrats are lousy storytellers

Yesterday’s Marquette poll showing Scott Walker up by seven points also had another striking finding: Half of Wisconsinites think Walker would do better at creating jobs, while only 43 percent think that of Tom Barrett.

Heather Digby Parton — otherwise known as “Digby” — comments:

Even though Walker is being recalled mostly because of a fight with workers and the state is dead-last in job creation, 50% of the voters think he’ll be better at job creation than the other guy? Nobody in the country has done worse!
This strikes me as yet another success of conservative talking points. I think many people have simply absorbed the oft-repeated notion that Republicans are the advocates for “job-creators” with their low taxes and deregulation and even in the face of clear evidence otherwise they can’t really see how anything else would work. And you can’t really blame them all that much. Nobody’s really telling them another story, at least not one that would make them think that Democrats would be better advocates for the “job creators.” So they default to the conventional wisdom or plain old tribalism.

On the national level, you also see this dynamic. Some polls have shown that more Americans think Mitt Romney would do a better job on the economy than Obama would, basically accepting Romney’s claims to an economic magic touch at face value. That’s tempered a bit by the fact that voters seem to understand that Dems would do more to advance the interests of the middle class than Republicans would, and that the priorities of GOP policies are skewed towards the interests of the wealthy. But it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that many voters seem instinctively inclined to accept conservative arguments about job creation, and in a very general sense, this really has been an epic communications failure by Democrats.

Paul Krugman points out regularly that Democrats didn’t adequately explain to voters that the amount of stimulus Obama had secured wouldn’t be enough to ensure a quick recovery, with the result that the public ended up more receptive to conservative talking points about how government spending has proven a massive failure. I don’t know how you determine whether that’s true or not, and polling is a bit confusing on these points, but it does seem clear that the public remains broadly skeptical of the idea that government can create jobs. (Public skepticism of all institutions, such as Wall Street, is running high.) And this is understandable. Given the current level of economic suffering, the slow pace of the recovery, and the failure of government to act last year on jobs, asking voters to accept the idea that government can fix the economy remains a tough sell, even if the stimulus has, in fact, had a real impact. Yes, Republicans blocked everything Obama proposed last year, but voters not tuned in to the details of Senate procedure may not care; they may ask themselves why Obama couldn’t just get his agenda through in spite of determined political opposition, and dismiss the whole mess as proof that government sucks.

Democrats have just not been able to come up with a good enough way to tell their story. By contrast, “sweep away government and a thousand economic flowers will bloom” is a very good story, given what people have been through during the last few years. Dems have to hope that they’ll be able to persuade swing voters that they’ve been told that story before, and that the promised ending never materialized.

By  |  05:23 PM ET, 05/31/2012

 
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