Ever since Obama began aggressively calling out the GOP for obstructing his jobs policies, insisting that Republicans are “putting party before country,” pundits have ominously warned that he risks alienating the middle of the country with such a stark, partisan and finger-pointing message.
But the new Post poll finds that independents and moderates essentially accept Obama’s diagnosis of what’s going on — majorities of both groups agree that Republicans are blocking Obama’s good faith efforts to fix the economy for political reasons.
As I noted below, the Post poll asks people to choose between two options. This: “President Obama is making a good faith effort to deal with the country’s economic problems, but the Republicans in Congress are playing politics by blocking his proposals and programs.” Or this: “President Obama has not provided leadership on the economy, and he is just blaming the Republicans in Congress as an excuse for not doing his job.”
The toplines: Americans agree with the first statement over the second one, 50-44. According to numbers sent my way by the Post polling team, this is more pronounced among moderates and independents:
* Independents favor statement one over statement two by 54-40.
* Moderates favor statement one over statement two by 57-37.
The overall number is lower, at 50 percent, because a hilarously meager nine percent of Republicans believe this to be the case.
I know I’m repeating myself here, but it turns out this voter awareness doesn’t necessarily benefit Obama. Voters who are inclined to believe the worst about Republicans might still conclude that Obama’s failure to get his policies passed shows he’s inffectual. Indeed, in the same Post poll, 53 percent of independents give Obama a negative rating on whether he’s a strong leader!
Steve Benen put it very well:
Voters’ understanding of the political process is severely limited, and many Americans likely fail to appreciate the role Congress must play in policymaking. There are no doubt plenty of voters thinking, “Sure, Republicans are sabotaging the economy, but why can’t Obama just go around them?” unaware of the fact that, on a grand scale, this isn’t an option.
And so, a question. We now know that Americans — particularly the middle of the road ones voters who are supposed to be alienated by this kind of talk — are receptive to the argument that Republicans are blocking Obama’s efforts at fixing the economy for political reasons. For all their very real disapproval of Obama, they think one party is acting in good faith to fix the economy, and the other isn’t. So when is the national political press going to start seriously covering this aspect of the debate?