Democrats & Liberals Archives

Rebuilding the Obama Base

While it’s mostly wishful thinking on the part of Republicans to suggest Obama is losing his base there is some truth there. Support for the president by progressives is still fairly high but certainly not as high as it was in November 2008. There will be a lot of talk of Obama trying to win back independents but he’ll still need to start with his own base first.

The progressive research group Democracy Corps has a report out this month called Seizing the New Progressive Common Ground that focuses on middle class Americans that voted for Obama and examines their opinions this year as we head into another election cycle.

I would recommend all progressives read the short 22 page report and carefully take a look at some of the quotations and statements collected in it. The opinions are fascinating and revealing. This is not a document produced to spin a message to independents or conservatives. It's designed to give liberals insight into key, progressive voting groups that Obama will need to keep on his side in the next election.

The focus group tested key words are especially fascinating. Particularly interesting is the phrase "smashed middle class." This apparently resonates greatly with middle class Obama voters who feel left out of a political dialog about the very poor and very rich Americans. They are concerned about a shift toward conservative policies that threaten the future of the areas middle class Americans care greatly about: education, housing and Social Security.

What is also interesting is that many of the people interviewed are not doubtful about Obama's dedication to policies that would strengthen the middle class but are simply doubtful of his ability to achieve such things. They look favorably on his move to take the message to the voters and paint Republicans as being responsible for grid-locking any attempt at change that the 2008 Obama supporters voted for. They see Obama as looking weak and his recent aggressiveness as a turn toward strength instead.

The report showed the following message deeply tapped into the voters sentiments:

America's strength has always been built on a rising middle class. You worked hard and you could have confidence that America took care of everyone. We saw rising incomes, strong families, more people owning a home - and more and more Americans working so their kids would do better and get a good education. Hard work and responsibility paid off. But the middle class has been smashed. People haven't seen a real raise in a long time and the economic crisis has left people on the edge. Getting the middle class back has got to be our nation's focus. So, let's keep our money on education, get health care costs down and make sure Medicare and Social Security is there for them. The congressional Republicans say we have to end Medicare and transfer costs to retirees, because we can't raise taxes on the wealthiest and oil companies. That's not the right course. We must never lose sight of the goal that all Americans can still believe in the American dream and achieve success.

I've written before already about how important it is to frame our message when we're speaking to people we have the ear of in our circle of family or friends. Most of us aren't going to go door to door to bring out the vote for Obama (though we certainly should), but we do each have people who listen to us at work or at church or other places in the community.

Obama can't keep the White House if his disenchanted 2008 supporters decide it would be better to go in the wrong direction simply because the current direction isn't getting the job done. Read the document. Learn from it. Let your progressive friends and family know why they should vote for Obama again. We'll worry about independents and swing voters another day.


Posted by Adam Ducker at November 13, 2011 10:52 AM
Comments
Comment #331932

Obama’s base is the 20% of American’s who call themselves liberal/progressives. These will vote for Obama no matter what he does; but independents/moderates supported Obama because of his message or his campaign promises. We have had 3 years to see his promises rang hollow and as a result, he has lost many of these independents/moderates. Now Obama is back on the campaign trail repeating the same old promises that he made 4 years ago, but you know the old saying, “fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me”. With 40% of American voters being fired up conservatives; Obama would need to capture a large majority of the independents/moderates, which he will not.

So now we come to the question, how can he regain a base; it’s simple “divide and conquer”. The only way the left can possibly see a victory is through class warfare, or in other words turn rich against poor, white against minority, young against old, and so on.

This is the goal of Obama and this is the goal of the OWS protestors. While Obama’s biggest financial supporters were WS, he, at the same time calls them fat cats and with the help of unions and their money, stirs up the base. If America falls for this again, shame on America.

On the other hand, Obama has no chance of gaining back his 2008 base with his accomplishments, because he has none. He is not a uniter, he has always been a divider.

Posted by: Mike at November 13, 2011 1:38 PM
Comment #331933

Obama’s principle advantage in 2008 is that he was a blank slate. He had no significant experience to be president. His campaign managed to spin that into an advantage. He had no long record to attack and they said his great character would be enough.

Today he has a record to run on. He successfully diagnosed the problem of the economy, but then did the wrong things to make it work, giving us the Obama doldrums and Obamavilles (aka OWS camps).

Obama is no longer unknown. We know him too well. And as Americans got to know more, they liked him less. Many people still like the idea of Obama. But his policies are not working.

I expect Obama folks to try to revive the magic, but with his experience four years older, most no longer believe in the Santa Claus.

Posted by: C&J at November 13, 2011 1:40 PM
Comment #331934

We faced this same situation in the past; it was the presidency of Jimmy Carter. In many ways, he and Obama are alike. The result was an overwhelming defeat for Democrats. Reagan (a conservative) won 50 states and sent Carter packing. I predict the same result for Obama.

Many Americans voters are worried to death of being called racists and many people overlooked Obama’s obvious faults because they didn’t want to be seen as the ones who voted against the black guy; but that is history and this time around prople will vote with their heads and not their hearts.

Posted by: Mike at November 13, 2011 1:50 PM
Comment #331938

Mike: “We faced this same situation in the past; it was the presidency of Jimmy Carter. In many ways, he and Obama are alike.”

Don’t forget that in as many ways Reagan and Obama are alike. Reagan and Obama came in on a wave of sentiment against the opponent. They had terrible economic conditions that brought down their own approval throughout their first term because of it. A recovery saved Reagan and fueled a landslide. It can do the same for Obama. It’s too early to call Obama a Carter that will lose 50 states. That’s wishful thinking on your part.

C&J: “I expect Obama folks to try to revive the magic, but with his experience four years older, most no longer believe in the Santa Claus.”

It will just be a matter of how much Obama succeeds in framing a GOP White House as a return to the policies that created the economic situation we’re in. You call it the “Obama doldrums” but we’re seeing polls showing Obama is winning the message war against conservatives who would have us believe everything would be fabulous now if it weren’t for Obama’s policies.

Posted by: Adam Ducker at November 13, 2011 2:39 PM
Comment #331940

Good article, Adam. Does Obama really have to do much of anything to appeal to his base? I’m not so sure about that. I think he can pretty much mail it in. Who will his base choose instead Obama? Michelle Bachmann? Traditional wisdom has a presidential re-election being a referendum that usually depends on the economy. In 2012, that wisdom may be overturned. Why? Because in the outcome of that referendum, there needs to be a credible alternative, and right now, I don’t see it, even with the limbo bar for ‘credible alternative’ set really low. Romney is the only one even close to being credible, but no one likes him, and 75% of the GOP base keeps desperately chasing alternatives. Romney will never generate enough enthusiasm to turn out the vote, despite all that money. Obama has never been a dirty campaigner, and he will not need to be this time either; just paint Romney as exactly the man he is, a lover of corporate personhood, Wall Street, and big corporate oligopolies. End of story.

What would be more of a concern would be a draft movement within the GOP of a truly credible alternative. Imagine if someone like General Petraeus were put on the ticket. Now you’re talking credible. Now you’re talking about a need to generate enthusiams among Obama supporters, or else. Now you’re talking about a real threat of a Republican takeover of the Executive Branch. As long as the GOP wants to ‘send in the clowns,’ or go with Romney, Obama should be safe, and he’ll politically he’ll stay aloof, act presidential, and camp in the middle.

Republicans. Please pretend I didn’t say anything about putting forward a credible candidate like Petraeus. Please back Romney or Cain or Gingrich. Please.

Posted by: phx8 at November 13, 2011 3:07 PM
Comment #331943

phx8

If Petraeus was the candidate, the left would slander him just as they did in September 2007. I don’t hold many grudges, but moveon.org is on my permanent shit list for their disgraceful behavior Others were in on it too. It was a truly shameful display. It would be embarrassing to see it again, but Kos and that sort would do it.

Anyway, Romney will beat Carter… sorry Obama.

Obama has a record to run on now and it is not one of success. He collected his dividends in advance. Like the country, he is deep in debt, but Obama’s debts are in trust and sense.

Posted by: C&J at November 13, 2011 4:09 PM
Comment #331945

AD, you wish Obama and Reagan had something in common. I don’t think the Republican will necessarily win 50 states. Some states, like CA, have gone over to the dark side and there is no help for them; but I do believe it will be a shutout against Obama.

Posted by: Mike at November 13, 2011 4:16 PM
Comment #331946

Carter… Oh yeah. When the Iranians took American diplomats hostage, they refused to release the diplomats until Reagan’s inauguration day. Remember that? Huh. What a wild coincidence. Not the Reagan and Bush would ever negotiate with the Iranians to prevent the release of hostages. Cough. Iran-Contra. Cough. What? Reagan wsa caught negotiating with the Iranians? No! Those were the Iranians of Ayatollah Khomeini! And the conservatives sent arms to Iran and used the profits to support Somoza’s National Guard in a horrible campaign of simple thuggery? Oh dear.

Obama doesn’t have to deal with a hostage crisis. He does face the threat a conservative shutdown of goverment. The Republicans can read the polls just as well as anyone else, and it will not be enough to do nothing and still win in 2012. It will take more to win. They will harm the US economy in the name of ‘debt-reduction’ or some ridiculous thing. Watch.

Posted by: phx8 at November 13, 2011 4:19 PM
Comment #331947
They will harm the US economy in the name of ‘debt-reduction’ or some ridiculous thing. Watch.

Yes, they learned from 2008 and the Democrats willingness to allow our economy to be harmed to win an election… McCain was winning in the polls until then, if you remember.

Never assume your opponent is not going to learn from your actions previously.

Posted by: Rhinehold at November 13, 2011 4:32 PM
Comment #331953

Phx8: “Does Obama really have to do much of anything to appeal to his base?”

I think in this economy Obama should worry a lot about his base. It’s not that they’ll vote for the other side as much as apathy will set in and lower enthusiasm. He’ll need to keep on message to keep them buzzing and keep them excited.

Mike: “AD, you wish Obama and Reagan had something in common.”

It’s wishful thinking to compare Obama to Carter and pretend he has nothing in common with Reagan. He has several key things in common. You just have to look for it and stop romanticizing the Saint Reagan era.

Right now Obama’s path to victory is an economy doing halfway decent and a whole lot better than when he started plus facing off against one of the clowns running for the GOP. Two things that will hurt him is the GOP finally finding somebody qualified or Europe dragging the United States off the cliff into a second recession.

C&J: “Obama has a record to run on now and it is not one of success.”

Something tells me even the things Obama was successful at are rated as failures in your book.

Posted by: Adam Ducker at November 13, 2011 5:43 PM
Comment #331965
Yes, they learned from 2008 and the Democrats willingness to allow our economy to be harmed to win an election… McCain was winning in the polls until then, if you remember.

Revisionist history? Why would you blame the dems for intentionally creating the financial meltdown to win an election?

Posted by: j2t2 at November 13, 2011 8:41 PM
Comment #331966

“Something tells me even the things Obama was successful at are rated as failures in your book.”

Posted by: Adam Ducker at November 13, 2011 5:43 PM

Why no, obamacare is really successful with Americans. There has been Democrats who denied it, some have been voted out because of it, and still there is a solid 50-60% of Americans against it.

The stimulus programs were a real success story.

The bailout of Freddie, Fannie, Gm, Chrysler, and numerous banks is real popular too.

Adam Ducker: “Right now Obama’s path to victory is an economy doing halfway decent and a whole lot better than when he started plus facing off against one of the clowns running for the GOP. Two things that will hurt him is the GOP finally finding somebody qualified or Europe dragging the United States off the cliff into a second recession.”

The blame game again? Obama’s economy is destined to fail; he tlks about recovery, but when you keep doing the same things over and over and expect difrent results, at some point it becomes ignorance.

Posted by: Mike at November 13, 2011 8:50 PM
Comment #331967

Adam

I believe he overplayed the stimulus and this has resulted in the Obama doldrums.

Obamacare is falling apart already. He did nothing to cut costs and added recipients.

Lots of what Obama did was ALMOST good. We all knew we needed to do something about the economy. Obama did some things right, but most things wrong. We all knew we needed something about health care. Obama did some things right and lots wrong. On balance, he went the wrong way.

Supporter give him credit doing something problems. I prefer doing the right things.

So you are right that Obama has a half way decent record - not good enough.

Posted by: C&J at November 13, 2011 8:55 PM
Comment #331968

Re Obama doldrums

Day after day, day after day,
We stuck, nor breath nor motion;
As idle as a painted ship
Upon a painted ocean.

Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner

Doesn’t that remind you all of the Obama economy?”

Posted by: C&J at November 13, 2011 9:00 PM
Comment #331973

Mike: Obama’s actions on the economy kept us from a depression and sent us into a recovery quicker than without them. That’s not just my view, but the view of multiple groups of economists. So far your side has not succeeded in spinning this sideways economic growth as the fault of Obama but I’m sure you’ll keep trying. While you’re doing that Obama is out there talking to voters and reminding them that he’s done the best he can given that they elected Republicans that let the middle and lower class Americans swing in the wind while they protect fat cats and big business from reasonable taxation policies.


C&J: What exactly does it mean to “overplay the stimulus” and remind me again what he could have done better? Magically fixed the housing market so it boosted our economy like it has other recoveries? Magically added demand to the economy so small businesses could hire and create more jobs?

Posted by: Adam Ducker at November 14, 2011 12:06 AM
Comment #331974

28% of American homeowners are underwater on their mortgages. This is down from 32%, but only because of foreclosures. The period between the first and second Bush recessions was fueled by debt- consumer debt- debt obtained by refinancing mortgages. The financial sector made a fortune. The Federal Reserve maintained low interest rates in order to fuel this bubble. They had to keep rates artificially low because the Bush tax cuts failed to stimulate the economy on a sustainable basis. Two unfunded wars made matters worse.

A speculative oil bubble put the final nail in the coffin. Interest rates edged up, and real estate declined- initially because of overbuilding, which resulted in too much supply on the market. Once real estate began its decline, the dominos started to fall. Bear Stearns, heavily involved in mortgage derivatives, looked like it was going under, and was taken over by JP MOrgan. The final blow came when Lehman Brothers failed. A credit crunch followed, and only massive government intervention saved the country and the capitalist system.

The Obama administration does not have the luxury of stimulating the economy by lowering interest rates. They are already at rock bottom. Qualitative easing has helped, but it’s not as effective a tool. Obama did an excellent job of stopping oil speculation in its tracks by threatening to use the Strategic Oil Reserve to quash price spikes, but the economy continues to struggle, and as long as 28% of all morgages are underwater, the economy will keep struggling.

Choices are limited for the Obama administration. The best bet would be keeping jobs in the country by stopping ‘free trade’ agreements and outsourcing. American companies are creating jobs like crazy- just not in this country. The situation is very similar to the weak Bush recovery. Corporations and rich people are doing just fine. For everyone else… eh… not so much. Without that fundamental change in approach to job creation, it’s safe to say the economy will continue its slow recovery… which is, at any rate, better than an economic decline.

Posted by: phx8 at November 14, 2011 12:33 AM
Comment #331975

Adam

The difference between life saving medicine and deadly poison is often in the dosage.

We needed TARP and we needed some stimulus. It would have been nice to built more infrastructure, but as Obama found out, there is no such thing as a shovel ready project.

But Obama and the Democrats let spending get out of hand. It was not well targeted. Some, like cash for clunkers, served only to spend lots of money to move economic activity from later to earlier. This is the general thing the stimulus did. We got a shallower recession at the cost of a weaker recovery AND massive new debt.

One of the problems is trying to keep home prices high. This has prevented a recovery in housing as we have a slow motion decline. Home owners, banks and others have lost money. I lost a pile of cash on my house. Nothing will bring it back. It was a bubble. We just have to get past it. Obama cannot understand this.

Housing cannot be fixed. It is not broken, just way overpriced. Many of us - C&J included - just lost money.

Please also see below.

phx8

Please also see above.

Re housing “The financial sector made a fortune” this is currently irrelevant. That money is gone with the bubble. This is the biggest problem with liberal ideas. You all seem to think that there is a pile of money out there stolen form good people. It is gone.

Many were in on it. Many of those “underwater” took out home equity loans and pissed away the money, as you imply. They were part of the bubble too. Many bought and sold houses, making money on the bubble. Many bought houses they could not afford. And of course, Fannie and Freddie were big villains.

But we cannot punish most of those involved, nor can we get the money “back.” WE homeowners have lost money. The prudent among us are not underwater, but we are poorer and the ain’t nothing the government can do to “fix” this.

Almost all adult Americans are both victims and perpetrators in this bubble.

Indeed, Obama has few options. Sometimes when nothing can be done, the best thing is to do nothing rather than run in the wrong direction.


Posted by: C&J at November 14, 2011 4:33 AM
Comment #331977

C&J: “It would have been nice to built more infrastructure, but as Obama found out, there is no such thing as a shovel ready project.”

Yes, too little of the stimulus was for infrastructure and too much was for tax breaks. One of the reasons many economists have looked favorably on the American Jobs Act is because it’s more targeted at infrastructure than ARRA was.

“We got a shallower recession at the cost of a weaker recovery AND massive new debt.”

I’d be interested to see any information you base that idea on.

“This has prevented a recovery in housing as we have a slow motion decline.”

Same here.

Posted by: Adam Ducker at November 14, 2011 8:04 AM
Comment #331978

C&J,
“Re housing “The financial sector made a fortune” this is currently irrelevant. That money is gone with the bubble.”

The corporations on the wrong side of the mortgage derivatives lost money, including many large banks in Europe. Iceland went bankrupt. Virtually all individuals in this country collected enormous bonuses and fees regardless of whether their corporations profited or lost. The activity was immoral and probably illegal, and yet, most of the perpetrators not only remain free from prosecution, but in some cases continue collecting the same huge bonuses.

So the financial sector is to blame, and right now it continues to run amok. Very little of Dodd Frank has been implemented, and what has been implemented is not very effective. Incredibly, GOP candidates want to repeal Dodd Frank. We should have broken up the ‘too big to fail’ banks and insurance companies, but incredibly, the series of takeovers and failures resulted in even larger organizations within the financial sector.

Part of the problem, C&J, is that conservatives have absolutely no idea why the economy collapsed. They have some vague notion about poor people causing the problem by getting mortgages, and that somehow Democrats like Barney Frank were involved. It’s preposterous. Conservatives don’t know about the lack of regulation and oversight, the effects of repealing Glass Steagall, the Commodoty Futures Modernization Act, or the concentration of power and wealth within the financial sector.

Is it any wonder we hear such asinine answers in the GOP debates? What a bunch of clowns.

Posted by: phx8 at November 14, 2011 11:00 AM
Comment #331999

phx8

There are lots of reason the economy collapsed. Mostly it was because of an asset bubble. It is true that Fannie, Freddie and Franks were forces that helped make it a crisis.

The financial industry was heavily regulated. Unfortunately, they were not regulated to deny loans and Franks, Fannie and Freddy pushed in this direction. When Bush tried to increase regulation and pull in Fannie and Freddie, he was rebuffed by Franks.

History will not treat triple F kindly.

But this doesn’t mean much as a practical matter. Even if we punished Franks and the other co-conspirators, it would not bring back the money. It is gone. It went into lots of pockets, but most just disappeared. NObody has it now.

It is true that Obama should object to big bonuses given out at banks and at Fannie and Freddie, but he is not enough of a leader to do that.

Posted by: C&J at November 14, 2011 5:45 PM
Comment #332008
When Bush tried to increase regulation and pull in Fannie and Freddie, he was rebuffed by Franks.

Could you care to explain how Barney Frank was able to prevent these regulations when the Democratic Party was in the minority? Or are you referring to Trent Franks, a GOP congressman from AZ?

Franks, Fannie and Freddy pushed in this direction.

Evidence?
You might want to start by reading this.


Posted by: Warped Reality at November 14, 2011 6:38 PM
Comment #332013

Now here’s an interesting development regarding the PPACA.

Posted by: Warped Reality at November 14, 2011 7:18 PM
Comment #332014

Warped

I generally read anything, but “Mother Jones” is beyond the pale. It reminds me of the old idea that you don’t have to ea the whole egg to know it is rotten.

When I was in college I used to read Mother Jones, but today I really cannot stand it anymore. You should really give it up. It is not meant for a thinking man.

There are good books written about the abuse done by Freddie and Fannie.

This is from a respectable magazine - http://www.economist.com/node/21532248 - describes some of the books.

Posted by: C&J at November 14, 2011 7:31 PM
Comment #332015

Andy Kroll writes for Mother Jones therefore he is wrong?

If you are so sure that Freddie & Fannie are to blame, why don’t you claim your $100,000 prize.

I’ll be at the library tomorrow anyway, so I’ll take a look at those books from the Economist review when I get a chance.

Posted by: Warped Reality at November 14, 2011 7:49 PM
Comment #332023


Republicans are hoping for a repeat of 1980 and the Democrats prefer a repeat of 1936, but Obamacare is no Social Security system and the Republican candidates are midgets compared to Reagan. Since this is the age of little minds with tiny attention spans, I say the election will be more like 2004.

Obama’s base has a powerful incentive, Republicans.

I think moderates might have turned away from Obama if not for the tea party politicians and their budget priorities.

Obama has a record, but so do the Republicans.

Posted by: jlw at November 15, 2011 12:20 AM
Comment #332033

Warped

I admit that it may be a prejudice, but when I see something in a publication such as the Mother Jones or the Nation, I am pretty sure it will not be much good.

Re the prize - The collapse has complex causes. Among them were Fannie, Freddie & Franks.

Who would judge whether or not somebody should win that 100,000? In a complex system, such a thing would be always open to question.

You know that some % of the U.S. population still believes the a conspiracy killed JFK, that 9/11 was an inside job or that Obama was not born in the USA. You cannot prove or disprove things to true believers.

On a much easier thing, there was a $10,000 prize for anybody who could document anybody using the N-word at a Tea Party rally. Will all the cameras and recorders we now have, this prize is still unclaimed.

Posted by: C&J at November 15, 2011 11:46 AM
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