Friday, March 07, 2008

It Comes Back to the Economy, Stupid

Paul Krugman talks about what matters to the voters and why. Not "hope", not Iraq, but the worsening economy (my emphasis throughout):

Democrats won the 2006 election largely thanks to public disgust with the Iraq war. But polls — and Hillary Clinton’s big victory in Ohio — suggest that if the Democrats want to win this year, they have to focus on economic anxiety. ...

According to exit polls, Mr. Obama narrowly edged out Mrs. Clinton among Ohio voters who consider Iraq the most important issue — but these voters cast only 19 percent of the ballots in the Democratic primary. Meanwhile, Mrs. Clinton led by 12 points among the much larger group of voters citing the economy as the most important issue — and by 16 points among those who cited health care. Mrs. Clinton’s winning margin was twice as large among those who were worried about their own financial situation as among those who weren’t.

Why has Mr. Obama stumbled when it comes to economic issues? Well, on health care — which is closely tied to overall concerns about financial security — there is a clear, substantive difference between the candidates, with the Clinton plan being significantly stronger. More broadly, I suspect that the Obama mystique — his carefully created image as a transformational, even transcendent figure — has created a backlash among those unconvinced that he’s interested in the nuts-and-bolts work of fixing things. Ohio voters were more likely to say that Mr. Obama inspires them — but more likely to say that Mrs. Clinton has a clear plan for the country’s problems.

And Mr. Obama’s attempt to win over workers by portraying himself as a fierce critic of Nafta looked, and was, deeply insincere — an appearance particularly costly for a candidate who tries to seem above politics as usual.

Thanks to Tuesday’s results, the nomination fight will go on to Pennsylvania in April, and probably beyond — and rightly so. It’s now clear that Mrs. Clinton, like Mr. Obama, has strong grass-roots support that cannot be simply brushed aside without alienating voters that the party will badly need in November. So the Democratic National Committee had better get moving on plans to do Michigan and Florida over, to give the eventual nominee the legitimacy he or she needs.

And, as the Democrats ponder their choices, they might want to consider which candidate can most convincingly ask: “Are you better offnow than you were eight years ago?”

The Anxiety Election

Like me, Krugman takes a look at the election results, not the wishful thinking of the Blogger Boyz, and sees who is actaully winning. He warns the DNC not to try to delegitimize Hillary, who is now just as likely to be the nominee as Obama.

He also picks up on two things I said a long time ago - Iraq as a campaign issue is not that salient among the broader population and that people have favorable memories of economic conditions under the Bill Cinton. Iraq, psychologically, is already resolved in most Americans' minds. We are going to leave in an orderly fashion soon and the timing has to do with the level of success.

The economy, however, that is the growing crisis and is far more immediate and tangible to the general public than Bush's War. They are anxious about their own situation and look for a candidate who can, as Krugman put it, talk directly and knowledgeably about the nuts-and-bolts of economic recovery plans.

On this count, Obama fails and is dropping. The more he is questioned, the less he is able to offer to those who want to know. The Kwel Kidz in the Press Corpse may be bored by wonkery, but town hall attendees have some questions they want answered and they want in depth responses, not fluff about awesomeness and audacity. What about stagflation, dude?

Finally, Krugman takes notice that Hillary voters are, like, real. They really think she is the best choice. They've had wall-to-wall Obama coverage and they like the candidate who has greater experience at a national level and who appears to understand the dangers facing the nation in depth, and has clear plans on how to deal with them. Get this through your thick skulls, Blogger Boyz - Hillary is more popular with Democratic voters than Obama.

She's got policies, and she knows how to use them.



Anonymous said...

She really came late to the online fundraising game so what she is doing is nothing short of remarkable. The fact that 90% of Obama supporters said they would vote for her (according to CNN's Tuesday night poll) and that she is bringing Reagan democrats back into the party (Southern Ohio comes to mind)shows how strong she will be going into the GE.

Dean's trying to wriggle off the hook when it comes to Michigan and Florida. Political reality can be harsh but right now it's telling Dean that if he doesn't seat these two powerful swing states he will set the dem party back 20 years.

David said...

It's the economy, stupid! US military Keynesianism costs us one trillion dollars a year (ie. one thousand billion!!).

The economy can do nothing under all that dead weight much less generate revenue for the social safety net and infrastructure improvements which would provide genuine jobs to cushion the blow of the coming recession/depression.

Given her stand on the war, Hillary's entire economic riff is an exercise in misdirection.