President Obama and the Democrats have succeeded at convincing voters that Republicans are trying to delay economic recovery, according to a series of recent polls.
The new data suggests that about half the country, including a majority of self-identified independents, believe that congressional Republicans are using their political power to thwart Obama’s efforts to reduce unemployment, presenting Democrats an opportunity to make this argument more explicitly as the 2012 campaign moves forward — to undercut Republicans’ claims that Obama and the Dems bear full responsibility for the economy, and to make their pattern of obstruction a real liability for them.
Suffolk University polled registered voters in Florida and found that nearly half of voters, including large minorities of conservatives and Republicans, believed “Republicans are intentionally stalling efforts to jump-start the economy to insure that Barack Obama is not re-elected?”
On Monday, a nation-wide Washington Post/ABC News poll yielded similar results. The question in the Post/ABC poll was different — it asked respondents to choose between “President Obama is making a good faith effort to deal with the country’s economic problems, but the Republicans in Congress are playing politics by blocking his proposals and programs,” and “President Obama has not provided leadership on the economy, and he is just blaming the Republicans in Congress as an excuse for not doing his job.”
Once again, half of their respondents went with option one. But as Greg Sargent noted, that’s because Republican voters overwhelmingly disagreed. By contrast, a healthy majority of moderates and independents agree with the economic sabotage premise.
Also on Monday, liberal blogger Markos Moulitsas publicized the top lines of a PPP poll he commissioned, which closely mimic the the Post/ABC survey: “50% think GOP intentionally stalling economy, incl 51% of Indies, & 15% of GOPers. Details Tuesday.”
It’s not all good news for the Democrats. Polls still suggest Obama hasn’t opened a big gap between himself and the GOP on the question of who’s a better steward of the economy. But if the notion that elected Republicans are blocking economic recovery for political gain becomes a mainstream proposition, they’ve got big trouble — particularly if small but substantial numbers of their own voters believe this to be the case, and disapprove of the strategy.
Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight, and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at email@example.com.