By Luke Brinker
The Washington Post and Bloomberg are out with a new national poll ahead of tomorrow night’s Republican debate, which the two organizations are putting on together. While the poll’s numbers on the GOP horse race will likely garner the most attention, the responses to these two questions are more noteworthy:
1. If a Republican were president right now, do you think the economy would be better, worse, or about the same as it is now?Better Worse The same No opinion All adults 23 25 45 7
2. Thinking beyond the 2012 presidential election, do you think your own family’s financial situation would be better if (President Obama wins a second term) OR if (a Republican wins the election) or wouldn’t it make much difference either way?President Obama Republican wins Not make much (Vol.) No wins a second term the election much difference Depends opinion All adults 24 24 44 * 7
Because recessions caused by financial crises take much longer to recover from than other slumps, voters are still experiencing the effects of a torpid economy. They seem to realize that things would be no better under a Republican president. (And if we’d gone the Tea Party route and not passed a stimulus in 2009, independent economists agree we’d be short an additional three million jobs.) At the same time, the Post/Bloomberg poll shows that even as voters are no more likely to trust Republicans than President Obama to turn the economy around, a strong plurality thinks the outcome of the 2012 election won’t make a difference from an economic perspective. This kind of nihilism is troubling. It indicates the triumph of conservative anti-Keynesian rhetoric, which holds that government is powerless to prime the nation’s economic pump. Moreover, if 68 percent of voters think either that a Republican victory would be better for the economy or that it doesn’t matter who wins next year, then voters are much more likely to give a new president a chance, regardless of the substance of his or her policy positions. For President Obama, these numbers signify the need to keep hammering home the message that Republican ideas have been tried and failed – and that only with a Congress and administration committed to vigorous government action can we right the nation’s economic ship.