Yes, I know you’re bored of hearing me and others point out that the nonstop chatter about the deficit is completely out of sync with voter angst about the economy and jobs.
But here’s another interesting finding, buried in today’s Marist poll, showing this in a new way: Obama’s big deficit reduction speech didn’t budge Obama’s low approval numbers on the economy and didn’t budge the numbers showing high public economic anxiety.
The poll found that before Obama’s speech, 40 percent approved of his performance on the economy, versus 58 percent who disapproved of it. After Obama’s speech, those numbers were 41-56 — statistically the same.
The poll also found that before Obama’s speech, 57 percent said the “worst is yet to come” on the economy, versus 38 percent who said the worst is behind us. After Obama’s speech, those numbers wer 57-39 — again, statistically the same.
Now, as you know, I thought Obama’s speech was great. If the number one topic in our national conversation (aside from what Donald Trump pretends to think about Obama’s birthplace and education) is going to be the deficit, it’s terrific to hear the President making an expansive moral case for liberal governance and contrasting it sharply with the GOP’s vision. But it’s becoming increasingly clear that all the deficit chatter is doing nothing to reassure voters about their number one concern.
Indeed, this is also supported by a recent New York Times poll finding that amid rising economic pessimism, only a paltry 29 percent think a major reduction in the deficit would create more jobs.
No one is saying the deficit isn’t a valid topic of conversation. But we’re increasing caught in a “Beltway Deficit Feedback Loop,” in which the relentless bipartisan focus on that one topic to the exclusion of others is leading more and more people to tell pollsters they’re worried about it. That in turn reinforces a sense among public officials that it should continue to be their number one focus. And people aren’t hearing anyone talk to them about the economy, even though it’s far more likely than the deficit to influence their vote next year.