Across demographic groups, poll respondents voiced little confidence that the president can improve unemployment
For President Obama, the overwhelming political imperative in 2012 may be to persuade voters to follow the advice of the legendary Negro Leagues baseball pitcher Satchel Paige when he famously counseled: Don't look back.
The latest figures on income, poverty, and access to health care released by the Census Bureau on Tuesday underscored the extraordinary reach and ferocity of the economic downturn that has battered the United States since 2007. And the results of the latest United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection poll conducted last weekend captures how much those trends have eroded faith in Obama's economic management.
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Those intertwined trends mean that, absent a greater economic revival than almost any forecaster now projects, Obama's top political priority next year may be convincing voters not to view 2012 primarily as a referendum on his first term. These dynamics suggest that he will face enormous pressure to instead shift the campaign's focus toward a choice with the eventual GOP nominee--particularly over their contrasting plans for reviving the economy and their disagreements on cultural issues such as abortion.
"The other side has got to accept that ... you can't run on your accomplishments, because things are going to hell in a handbasket, and you've got to make the issue something else," says Neil Newhouse, the pollster for GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney. "Usually, most candidates, when they are facing that situation, decide to train their focus on the opposition."