"It's the economy, stupid" is from a sign that hung in the Clinton "war room" during the 1992 election. The point was that the economy was the only thing that really mattered in the election.
This election is a statement that the economy is not working for people. However else you analyze what happens next week, this is the core of all of it.
A new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows why the Republicans are doing so well in the polls right now.
"Recovery" Or Not, The Economy Sucks For Most People
Q: Would you describe the state of the nation's economy these days as excellent, good, not so good or poor?
Positive 27% Negative 72% Excellent 1% Good 26% Not so good 44% Poor 28%
People Think The Economy Is Rigged To Favor The Wealthy
Q: Do you think the U.S. economic system (generally favors the wealthy) or (is fair to most Americans)?
|Generally favors the wealthy||71%|
|Is fair to most Americans||24%|
People Think Republicans Will Fix This
Other polls show something ironic: People trust Republicans more than Democrats to fix this and make the economy favor regular people again.
An October 13 Gallup poll: "On the No. 1 issue, the economy, Republicans have more than doubled their April lead over Democrats, to 11 percentage points."
This Gallup poll reflects several other polls conducted leading up to this election, including:
- A September George Washington University Battleground Poll that showed Republicans were favored by likely voters over Democrats, 49 percent to 42 percent.
- \A Rasmussen poll that same month that concluded that the "GOP still holds a 44 percent to 41 percent lead in voter trust on that issue."
- A May Pew Research-USA Today poll that found: "By a 43 to 39 margin, Americans trust Republican leaders in Congress over the Obama administration on economic policies to boost the economy."
Here's another irony: With the annual budget deficit down two-thirds from what it was when President Bush left it, people think it's worse. This is from the October 13 Gallup poll: "The GOP's lead on the federal budget deficit has also widened, to 20 points from 14 points in April, and is now higher than at any other time during Barack Obama's presidency."
That last one is not a poll of opinion, that's a poll of people's understanding of basic facts. The deficit is way, way, way, way down, but people think it's up.
People See Bad Economy, Think Democrats Are "In Charge"
The Republican strategy of obstruction and sabotage was clear and effective.
- They obstructed every effort to help the economy. They filibustered almost everything in the Senate and refused to allow votes in the House.
- They did things that sabotaged the economy. They threatened to default on the debt, which by itself was costly to the economy. They forced austerity with budget cuts and the "sequester." They shut down the government.
- They understood that a Democratic president means people think "Democrats" are "in charge' of the economy. Therefore people will blame "Democrats" when the economy is bad.
- During the election they have campaigned saying that "the Obama economy" is bad because of "Obama's policies."
It isn't as if the Democrats in the House and Senate haven't been trying to help regular people. The Progressive Caucus' People's Budgets, for example, have been solidly pro-economy and pro-regular-American. Democrats in the Senate have lined up to support filibustered bill after filibustered bill: The American Jobs Act. Cuts in tax breaks and subsidies for oil companies. Efforts to maintain and modernize our infrastructure. Efforts to help people with terrible student loan burdens. Efforts to raise the national minimum wage.
Why Didn't Democrats See This Coming?
The question is, why didn't those Democrats who plan for the election season see this coming from Day One, and plan to do something about it? It's not just obvious in retrospect, it was obvious on the first day, and the second day, and the third day ... and every day.
Where is the unified Democratic message about how Democrats and their policies are better for working people when it comes to the economy? It's the economy, stupid.
Has the chase for campaign cash from the "donor class" so completely overwhelmed the process that it didn't even occur to those Democrats whose job it is to prepare for campaigns that regular people actually vote in the elections they are raising all of this money to fight in?
Here we are a week from the election and the public doesn't know that Republicans again and again and again filibustered and obstructed and sabotaged things that would help the economy. No one was or is pointing the finger and making these things clear – at least not in ways that the voting public is hearing.