I’ve thought, and I think even written, that predictions that the only thing that would matter to Obama’s re-election was whether unemployment was above or below 8% by Election Day were facile. (I’ve certainly thought it enough, so if I didn’t write that it was an oversight.) Countless variables are at play in a Presidential election; to choose just one and assign it complete power to determine the outcome is simplistic.
Note: cross-posted with minor edits from Daily Kos. At times like this, I admit that I do miss Geoff Willis’s being here to engage me on the topic. But life goes on.
So, this month, we see that unemployment is tumbling downward and Obama’s re-election chances are hurtling upwards.
While I’m a little stung by this victory for the simplistic, there’s a positive side to this even for the likes of me: the story is so simple that even the public can understand it.
As we present it to the public, though, let’s not forget to connect a couple of dots for them. The Republicans, like apparently everyone else in the country except for me, thought that this was true also — this year was all about the economy. That’s Dot 1.
Dot 2 is trickier. We have to get low-information voters to understand the truth that because of Dot 1, Republicans have intentionally tried to sink the economy with their extraordinary and unprecedented obstruction of Democratic efforts to fix it. That’s a hard sell, due to its complexity and fundamental outrageousness — but it has just gotten easier.
Dot 2 is also known as the Sabotage question, about which I wrote three months ago. (I hope that PPP polls it again soon.) This is the finding, first highlighted by Steve Benen from an obscure question in a Florida poll, that a whole lot of voters believed that Republicans were actually trying to sabotage the economy for political gain.
A lot of voters believed it — and a lot of voters didn’t believe it, because it is so monstrous. How do we get those voters to recognize the truth? Well, right now, we can say the following two simple sentences:
THIS IS WHAT THE REPUBLICANS WERE AFRAID OF.
THIS IS WHAT THE REPUBLICANS WERE TRYING TO PREVENT.
Sentence 1 — or Dot 1 — is pretty obvious. Sentence (or Dot) 2 is outrageous. To believe that you can get from Dot 1 to Dot 2, you have to think that the Republican Party is really evil (which, depending on how evil you are yourself, might seem like a good or a bad thing to you.)Now that we’ve seen how quickly the improvement in the economy has pushed Obama ahead of the Republicans, we have a teachable moment: voters can connect the dots. And when they do, they are not going to like the picture of the Republicans that they see.
So let’s see this message go forth: this is what the Republicans were afraid of — and what they were willing to deepen our tremendous economic misery to prevent. They blocked Democrats’ solutions to our economic problems for cynical political gain.
We can teach people that lesson right now — the time is ripe. Republicans were right about the impact of an improving economy on their chances of winning. And what they did as a result was very, very wrong.