Entry 1069 of 1199
By Blue Prevails On July 11, 2010 at 1:17 AM
The Democracy Corp June survey has caused Republicans to cheer and has brought about consternation among Democrats. Of course, one would expect survey responders to be unhappy and even embittered about unemployment rates, but the responses to one question have raised more than a few eyebrows and have engendered interest from the media over the past week. Here is the stem of the question: "Now, I am going to read you a list of words and phrases which people use to describe political figures. For each word or phrase, please tell me whether it describes Barack Obama very well, well, not too well, or not well at all." When asked about "a socialist" as a descriptor, 33 percent of likely voters said it described Obama “very well”; 22 percent said “well”; 15 percent said “not too well”; and 25 percent replied that is described him “not well at all”. That means that 55% of respondents are defining President Obama as a socialist when given a choice.
I was surprised at these responses, although I probably should not have been. Tea Partiers, right-wing radio and cable hosts, and some Republicans have been bandying about the term all spring and summer, and bombardment without contradiction lets the message stand. Democrats have for too long thought that we could merely ignore this kind of preposterous messaging and it would quietly die away, but we continue to fail to recognize the efforts toward systematic bias through media manipulation. Do you think any of these people promoting the misrepresentation of Obama's economic and political views as "socialist" really believe it themselves? Of course not. They see an opportunity to manipulate the uninformed, the disenfranchised, and yes, even in some cases, the racists, who are all too ready to believe any negative terms used against Obama.
I wager that if you asked many of those who labeled Obama as socialist in the survey to define socialism or give examples of how the nation is closer to socialism under Obama than other presidents, they would be loath to do so. One commenter said that he thought people were defining Obama's socialism as meaning "whatever we don't like today." That might be fairly accurate, but that matters not at all because people vote on the basis of their perceptions. Right now, Obama is perceived as too liberal, not feeling the pain of the ordinary folks, and not forceful enough in trying to solve problems. This bodes very badly for Democrats in November. Obama is not running this year; he has time to recover as we have seen both Dems and Republicans do in past elections. The problem for Democratic candidates is that the voters, to the extent that they see them aligned with Obama, will not pull the lever for them. Why such a wildly popular president when he took office is now a drag on the party in this year's races is a discussion for another time (and to be fair, most of the problems that are so onerous and formidable were not of his making), but we cannot continue to ignore how the summer is shaping up. Some pundits are saying that even if there is a downtick in the unemployment numbers, it may be too late to change perceptions for the fall election.
This piece is written out of frustration with Democrats--from our president down to the individual Democratic voters, myself included--who let ourselves be defined by opposition forces whoever they may be. Democrats who may not be wholly in support of everything President Obama or the Party is doing are hanging tough; it is those who label themselves as Independents who have flipped. I suppose it is human nature to want someone to take care of us and to do the heavy lifting in the problem solving arena, leaving us carefree of the responsibilities. When we hear about a global economy we no longer control, a climate more extreme than in the past, jobs that are no longer available for skillsets employers don't seem to need or want, and a future fraught with fear because of technological and societal changes that are sometimes hard to fathom, much less accommodate, it's just easier to call Obama a socialist and vote against him and his fellow Democrats.
FYI, more polling data:
Obama approval: 45%
Obama shares your values: 46%
Obama is on your side: 45%
Obama is too liberal: 57%
Obama is a big spender: 61%
Obama has realistic solutions to the country's problems: 43%
Mean Republican vs. Democratic Party ratings: 46.0% to 43.3%
Mean Congressional Republican vs. Democrat ratings: 43% to 40.7%
Generic Republican vs. Democratic Congressional support in November: 48% to 42%