Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Washington Post Morning Fix: Obama’s middle class message (and why it’s smart)

Obama’s middle class message (and why it’s smart)

By Chris Cillizza and Aaron Blake

President Obama has focused his re-election message squarely on the middle class of late, a strategy that should pay dividends according to new numbers in the Washington Post/ABC-News poll.

A majority of those tested — 51 percent — said they trust Obama to do a better job protecting the middle class, while just 39 percent chose Republicans.

Obama’s advantage on that question is relatively unchanged in Post/ABC polling dating back to late last year — a trend line that suggests some level of stability in the numbers.

Add to that the fact that nearly three in four (72 percent) respondents were supportive of the idea of raising taxes on people making over $250,000, and it becomes clear why Obama is focusing so heavily on the middle class in his 2012 messaging.

To be clear, two pieces of poll data do not a reelection victory make. But, the middle class message is a rare bright spot for Obama in a poll that showed his job approval numbers dipping under 50 percent and growing dissatisfaction with his handling of the economy.

And if Obama can win the middle class, he will almost certainly win a second term, since it comprises the bulk not only of all voters but of swing voters.

Defining the middle class is not an easy proposition, but let’s for the sake of argument say that it includes household incomes ranging from $30,000 to $99,999.

Combined, those earning groups accounted for 55 percent of all voters in 2008, according to exit polls.

Obama’s strongest economic group within that range was those earning between $30,000 and $49,999, which he carried by 12 points over GOP Sen. John McCain.

McCain won those making between $50,000 and $74,999 by a single point while Obama carried the $75,000 to $99,999 subgroup by three points.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to conclude that those making between $50,000 and $99,999 are at the center of both parties’ winning strategy for 2012.

Win those voters and you likely win the election. Obama and his political team have already lasered in on that group — giving them an early messaging edge over his Republican rivals.

Of course, how the economy fares has the potential to overwhelm any message, no matter how well targeted.

NRSC raised $5 million in March: The National Republican Senatorial Committee raised more than $5 million in March, according to a source.

That makes it the committee’s best monthly total in a non-election year since the passage of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform.

The committee raised $12.9 million for the quarter, has $1.5 million in cash and $2.75 million in debt — the lowest debt figure of the six major national party committees.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has not yet released its fundraising figures. At the end of February, it had $5.1 million in cash and $8.65 million in debt.

House Majority PAC goes up with first ads: The newly formed House Majority political action committee — a Democratic-leaning super PAC — is going up with its first advertising buy, it is set to announce this morning.

The radio buy targets 10 House Republicans for voting for the House GOP budget last week, saying the bill guts Medicare and asks seniors to pay for tax breaks for the wealthy.

“While Duffy’s budget leaves the wealthy fat and happy, it puts the squeeze on Wisconsin families, and will end Medicare as we know it. That’s right, end Medicare as we know it,” says one of the ads, targeting Wisconsin GOP freshman Sean Duffy.

The other nine targets are Reps. Paul Gosar (Ariz.), Rick Crawford (Ark.), Allen West (Fla.), Chip Cravaack (Minn.), Charlie Bass (N.H.), Ann Marie Buerkle (N.Y.), Joe Heck (Nev.), Francisco Canseco (Texas) and Blake Farenthold (Texas).

The PAC has not said how big the ad buy is, but according to those familiar with the effort, in total this is a six-figure buy.

Club for Growth tells Lugar to retire: Club for Growth head Chris Chocola on Tuesday leaned towards getting involved in Rep. Richard Lugar’s (R-Ind.) 2012 primary, suggesting that the longtime senator retire rather than face a conservative backlash.

Chocola, a former Indiana congressman, said “we do have some concerns about Sen. Lugar and his service. We think it would be probably best if he would retire at this point.”

The Club, which was instrumental in bringing down Sen. Robert Bennett (R-Utah) in 2010, is also training a keen eye on Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine). But neither has a high-profile primary challenger yet like Lugar does.

The Club generally keeps their future moves close to the vest, but given Chocola’s Indiana ties, Lugar’s vulnerabilities and the fundraising troubles of Lugar’s primary challenger, state Treasurer Richard Mourdock, the state presents a solid opportunity for the Club to make an impact.

Inouye weighs in on Case: Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) says he intends to stay out of the Democratic primary to replace Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii), but suggested that he might not be able to help himself when it comes to former Rep. Ed Case (D).

Inouye has said that Case lied to him about his intentions concerning a failed 2006 primary against Akaka.

“I don’t mind people disagreeing with me. But on something like this, straight to my face,” Inouye said.

Inouye said he and Case have spoken about the matter.

“I let bygones by bygones,” Inouye said. “But I said something like, ‘When I get agitated and irritated, I might act up.’

“After all, I’m human, right?”

The doesn’t sound like someone who will be in the sidelines if it comes down to it.


  • Tim Pawlenty backed off his previous support for using Yucca Mountain as a nuclear waste repository during an appearance on Jon Ralston’s “Face to Face” in Nevada.

  • Former Rep. Matt Salmon (R-Ariz.) will run to succeed the man who succeeded him in the House, Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.). Flake is running for Senate.

  • The Club has also been picking a fight with Donald Trump, and on Tuesday, another regular target of the Club, Mike Huckabee, came to Trump’s defense.

  • The Pawlenty staffer who was arrested earlier this month and charged with public intoxication has resigned.

  • Vice President Biden raised money for Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) on Tuesday.

  • A new Quinnipiac poll shows New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s (R) approval rating dropping below 50 percent. Perhaps more interesting: Christie is pretty popular among men but pretty unpopular among women.

  • Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) raised $1 million in the first quarter. State Auditor Tom Salmon (R) is inching towards a challenge.


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