Way back in late 1999 (yes it was a long time ago) I became a regular reader of a great website called Voter.com which was a blog style site with prominent contributors from all perspectives mostly discussing the upcoming 2000 presidential election. Now Voter has long since disappeared, replaced by left or right dominated sites (welcome to the echo chamber) and more developed sites like Real Clear Politics or the Politico. But one gem has survived, The Battleground Poll, and now finds its home at The Politico and is sponsored by George Washington University. What makes Battleground special is it is a relatively deep poll with approximately 1,000 likely voters and is jointly conducted by Republican Pollster The Terrance Group and Democratic Pollster Lake Research Group. Additionally Battleground has an extensive set of relative questions and is very transparent in the polling methodology.
The current version offers an interesting insight into the minds of the American electorate that offers hope and caution to those of us who support the Republican Party, and also Democrats. On the surface, it appears Americans have endorsed divided government with the generic congressional ballot at 39 percent Strongly Democratic and 3 percent leaning Democratic while 37% Strongly Republican and 5 % leaning Republican and 16% expressing no opinion. In the November 2010 election the actual vote gave the republicans a 5 percent lead. On Job approval President Obama has a reasonable level of support with 34 percent Strongly Approving of his job performance, 18 percent Somewhat Approving, 34 percent Strongly Disapproving and 10 percent Somewhat Disapproving. This shows that the truly partisan sides are essentially equal, with 34 percent strongly Approving and Disapproving it’s those who feel less sure that seem to be driving the dynamic. It also seems the President received very little bound for Killing OBL. One cautionary note is the level of personal support President Obama has with 48 percent Strongly Approving of him and 24 percent Somewhat Approving as opposed to 15 percent who Strongly Disapprove and 4 percent who Somewhat Disapprove. This message is clear, the path to defeating Barak Obama rests in contrasting his policy positions and job performance as President, not is personal attacks. Really this is not a surprise since most Americans of all political affiliations genuinely want the President in office to succeed and support the office if not the occupant.
It is when you begin to look at the issues that it becomes clear the electorate is not in a good mood at all and the Administration is on the wrong side of many of the issues. To put it bluntly we as a people are scared of our economic future with 73 (58 strongly/15 leaning) percent feeling the next generation will be worse off than the current and just 24 (13/9) being optimistic for the next generation. This level of pessimism is almost without precedence and consistent with many other polls. Americans favor repealing the Healthcare Reform law 49 (37/12) percent to 42 (30/12) percent. Without any doubt the voters are focused on the economy and when asked what the single most important issue to them is, 28 percent respond the economy and jobs and 20 percent reply government spending and the budget deficits. This swamps all other issues in the poll. Please note this poll asked dozens of other questions and is packed with interesting data making it well worth a good solid read.
Inside this poll is a roadmap to the 2012 election for those who take the time to think about how the people feel. Personal attacks against any of the candidates are much less likely to gain traction than directly addressing and contrasting positions on economic issues. Addressing the current economy and real private sector job creation is what the voters seek. It seems people have become focused on how the threat the debt poses to the very future of the country. In many ways this is a flashback twenty years to the 1992 election and that campaign may provide a guide to victory. Lastly I think Healthcare poses a threat and opportunity to the GOP. While a plurality favor repealing it, a strong majority feel it went too far. Thus a proposal which did not simply propose repealing the law but contained real free market reform would significantly increase the popularity of such policies. Additionally comprehensive free market healthcare would prevent the leftists from trying to socialize healthcare down the road when they inevitably gain power again. Let’s just hope our candidates for the nomination keep the focus on the economy, in doing so they will ensure the retirement of Barak Obama.