[Marxism] Base erodes for Obama

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sat Sep 17 07:24:31 MDT 2011

NY Times September 16, 2011
Support for Obama Slips; Unease on 2012 Candidates

President Obama’s support is eroding among elements of his base, and a 
yearlong effort to recapture the political center has failed to attract 
independent voters, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News 
poll, leaving him vulnerable at a moment when pessimism over the 
country’s direction is greater than at any other time since he took office.

The president’s effort to seize the initiative on the economy was well 
received by the public, and clear majorities support crucial pieces of 
his new job-creation program. But despite Mr. Obama’s campaign to sell 
the plan to Congress and voters, more than half of those questioned said 
they feared the economy was already in or was headed for a double-dip 
recession, and nearly three-quarters of Americans think the country is 
on the wrong track.

Republicans appear more energized than Democrats at the outset of the 
2012 presidential campaign, but have not coalesced around a candidate. 
Even as the party’s nominating contest seems to be narrowing to a 
two-man race between Mitt Romney and Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, a 
majority of their respective supporters say they have reservations about 
their candidate. Half of Republicans who plan to vote in a primary say 
they would like more choices.

A snapshot of the Republican Party, four months before the first primary 
ballots are cast, shows that voters are evenly divided between 
preferring a presidential nominee who can defeat Mr. Obama or one who 
aligns with them on most issues. A majority of voters who support the 
Tea Party movement place a higher priority on winning back the White House.

The Republican primary campaign is unfolding in a more conservative 
electorate than four years ago, with 7 in 10 Republican voters calling 
themselves conservative and one-quarter who say they are moderate.

The poll, which was conducted after Mr. Obama’s economic address to 
Congress last week, contains considerable warning signs for the 
president. The poll found a 12-point jump since late June, to 43 
percent, in the number of Americans who say the economy is getting 
worse. And for the first time since taking office, his disapproval 
rating has reached 50 percent in the Times and CBS News polls.

“I don’t disapprove of Barack Obama as a person, but as a president he 
has disappointed me greatly,” said Ann Sheets, 69, a Democrat from 
Chattanooga, Tenn., speaking in a follow-up interview. Ms. Sheets added, 
“I’m realistic enough to know how difficult it is and I am not against 
compromise, but I voted for a backbone. You have to draw some lines in 
the sand, and I don’t think he has done that.”

The poll found a 43 percent approval rating for Mr. Obama. It is 
significantly higher than Jimmy Carter, who had an approval rating of 31 
percent at a similar time in his presidency, according to the Times and 
CBS News poll, which showed Ronald Reagan with an approval of 46 percent 
and the elder George Bush at 70 percent.

The president’s support has fallen to its lowest levels across parts of 
the diverse coalition of voters who elected him, from women to 
suburbanites to college graduates. And a persistent effort over the past 
year to reclaim his appeal to independent voters has shown few signs of 
bearing fruit, with 59 percent of this critical electoral group voicing 
their disapproval.

While Mr. Obama has not yet succeeded in winning over independent 
voters, who comprise the most influential piece of the electorate, 
neither have Republicans. The field is largely unknown to independents, 
and few have a favorable opinion of any of the candidates.

As the Republican Party experiences something of a reinvention, with Tea 
Party activists often clashing with the party’s weakening establishment, 
the poll found an overall electorate that is not entirely in step with 
the campaign messages of the party’s candidates.

More than 8 in 10 Republicans voters would like to see the national 
health care law repealed, at least in part. About half say illegal 
immigrants should be deported, rather than offered a chance at 
citizenship or an opportunity to serve as guest workers.

Yet in stark contrast to the positions taken by some presidential 
candidates, three-quarters of Republicans say global warming exists — 
either as a result of human activity, natural patterns in the earth’s 
environment, or both. Nearly 6 in 10 favor allowing same-sex couples to 
either form civil unions or marry. And only one-third of Republicans 
support a ban on abortion.

A slim majority of Republican voters say it is important for a 
presidential candidate to share their religious beliefs. And more than 
one-third of Republican primary voters say that most people they know 
would not vote for a candidate who is Mormon.

Mr. Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, struggled during his 
presidential bid four years ago to explain his Mormon traditions to some 
voters. Mr. Perry speaks frequently to Republican audiences about his 
evangelical beliefs.

The poll was taken as Republicans hopefuls are drawing sharp 
distinctions with one another in a series of nationally televised debates.

A fight over Social Security has emerged as one of the early yet 
defining differences between Mr. Perry, who has called the program a 
“monstrous lie,” and Mr. Romney, who has called for maintaining the 
current system with some changes to shore up its long-term financial 
condition. The poll found that nearly three-quarters of Republicans said 
they thought Social Security and Medicare were worth their costs.

The crosscurrents across the Republican landscape show the promise and 
peril for the candidates. Nearly half of Republicans surveyed said they 
considered themselves supporters of the Tea Party, but that finding was 
tempered by two-thirds of Republicans who said a candidate’s 
identification with the Tea Party made no difference in their vote.

“Any Republican who gets the nomination, whether it’s my first choice or 
not, is going to be better than what we’ve got now,” said Allen 
Hulshizer, 77, a Republican and retired structural engineer from 
Glenside, Pa. “By the time you get down to the final selections, any one 
of the top contenders will certainly be better than Obama.”

The nationwide telephone poll was conducted from last Saturday through 
Thursday with 1,452 adults, of whom 1,356 were registered to vote. The 
margin of sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points for 
both groups.

The poll found that most Americans are familiar with the American Jobs 
Act, the president’s $447 billion proposal to create jobs. Almost half 
of the public is confident the plan would create jobs and improve the 
economy. A substantial majority of Americans support the main proposals 
aimed at creating jobs, including tax cuts for small businesses, 
improvements in the nation’s infrastructure and payroll tax cuts for 
working Americans.

Yet despite their support, two-thirds of Americans from broad majorities 
across party lines are doubtful that Congressional Democrats and 
Republicans will be able to reach an agreement on a job-creation package 
despite near universal bipartisan support for compromise. The poll also 
found a historically low approval rating for Congress, with just 19 
percent approving of Republicans, compared with 28 percent that approve 
of Democrats.

The poll had a few promising signs for Mr. Obama. Americans strongly 
support his position that creating jobs should be a higher priority than 
cutting spending. Democrats and independents agree on that view, while 
Republicans do not. And across party lines, Americans support his 
position that a deficit-reduction plan should include a mix of tax 
increases and spending cuts.

But the poll also found a dark mood on Mr. Obama’s handling of the 
economy, with 34 percent approving and 57 percent disapproving. His 
numbers on job creation are similarly bleak, with 40 percent approving 
of his performance and 53 percent disapproving. Two-thirds of the public 
say Mr. Obama has not made progress in fixing the economy, even though a 
majority of people concede the condition of the national economy is not 
something a president can do a lot about.

“I have incredible empathy for the spot he’s in. He walked into the huge 
mess left behind by George Bush,” said Barbara Cornell, 56, a Democrat 
and hospital chaplain from Shoreline, Wash. Ms. Cornell added, “I 
believe he is a good person, but there are all these issues and problems 
that aren’t being dealt with.”

Allison Kopicki and Marina Stefan contributed reporting.

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