A new poll from Fox News affirms what virtually every other poll has found when people are asked to name the most important problem facing the country. And as James Carville noted long ago, “It’s the economy, stupid.”
The Fox poll had an overwhelming 43% of registered voters citing the economy as the most important issue. That was two and a half times more than the next three issues, immigration, healthcare, and foreign policy.
Nearly every economic indicator shows that the economy has been booming in recent years. The Obama administration has presided over the biggest and most enduring advance in fifty years. The Dow reached another all-time high today. Unemployment is 5.7%, nearly half of what Obama inherited from George W. Bush. GDP growth increased at an annual rate of 3.5% in the third quarter of 2014. Housing is up, interest rates are down, inflation is imperceptible, and consumer confidence rose in October to its highest level since 2007.
The only significant low points are average wages and public sector employment. In both of those matters it has been the Republican Party that has thrown obstacles into the path of progress. Democrats are universally in support of a minimum wage increase that economists agree would produce higher demand for goods and services, thus stimulating job growth. And Obama has been trying to drag the GOP along to allocate funds for infrastructure development which would not only create jobs, but improve the environment for businesses to succeed. Yet conservative naysayers continue to stifle these measures for no reason other than to hurt the President and his party.
Given the success on so many levels of the President’s economic record, and the fact that the economy is the number one issue on the minds of voters, the obvious question is: Why on Earth are Democrats struggling to hold their position in Congress? The American people ought to be rewarding success and punishing the obstacles to it. With a more cooperative legislative branch, Obama could achieve a great deal more in the last two years of his presidency.
And therein lies the answer to the question. The last thing the GOP wants is for Obama to be successful. It’s what they pledged on the eve of his first inauguration when Mitch McConnell declared that his top priority was to make Obama a one-term president. It’s what their de facto leader, Rush Limbaugh, pronounced when he said that he wants Obama to fail. It’s why they orchestrated a shutdown last year that achieved nothing but cost $24 million. And it’s why they have a kneejerk opposition to anything that Obama proposes, even if it was originally proposed by a Republican.
Also notable is that the other issues cited as important to voters also have seen measurable improvement during the Obama years. Illegal immigration is way down, while simultaneously domestic responses to the plight of undocumented residents have become much more compassionate and rational. As for health care, more Americans are covered by insurance than ever, and at less cost. And their coverage is more comprehensive and cannot be denied due to preexisting conditions.
Nevertheless, midterm polling is inexplicably showing tight senate races in several battleground states. With all of the good news, Democrats should be running away with this. But Republicans have expertly managed a campaign of dishonest negativity that has distorted the debate and damaged the perception of Democratic candidates. They have also had the benefit of bottomless barrels of cash from billionaires like the Koch brothers with vested interests that do not align with those of ordinary Americans.
Still, in most of these states the Democrats would be leading comfortably if the poll queried the entire electorate. But when constraining the poll to “likely” voters, the numbers fall decidedly against the Democrats. That’s because many of the traditionally Democratic constituents tend to sit out midterm elections.
If Democrats can reverse that trend through voter education, and a strong ground game getting out the vote on election day, the pollsters and the Republicans and the media will be shocked by the results. But it will take money and hard work to do it. Any encouragement you can give to people you know to insure that they vote will pay off in dividends. Especially in races that are so close. And here are a couple of other ways you can help:
You’ll be glad you did. The work, calling other Democrats like yourself, is fun and rewarding. And any funds can help to expand the outreach. The alternative is to wake up Wednesday morning with the prospect of a senate run by Mitch McConnell where every committee chair is a Republican who wishes harm on this President and his agenda. Victory is not out of reach, but it will require some determination and commitment. So please consider everything that you can do to be a part of a major electoral upset that will put the Tea Party on its knees.