Why Economic Fairness Isn't Helping Obama's Poll Numbers

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Obama will be giving a speech in Florida on Tuesday about the "Buffett Rule," which would make sure that rich guys like Warren Buffett won't pay a lower tax rate than middle class workers like their secretaries. It would make the tax code more fair, but as a new poll from ABC News and The Washington Post shows, fairness doesn't yet look like a winning strategy for Obama. As ABC's Michael Falcone and Amy Walter note, on the broad views, the electorate looks to be siding with Obama, Democrats and even the Occupy Wall Street types. The poll found that 52 percent of voters rate "unfairness in the economic system that favors the wealthy" as a bigger problem than "overregulation of the free market that interferes with growth and prosperity," which was chosen by 37 percent. And those most concerned about the fairness of the economy overwhelmingly side with Obama over Romney, 70 to 27 percent. (Romney leads the overregulation crowd 73 to 23 percent). 

So far, it looks like a winning issue for Obama. But look at the people who have been the most unfairly treated by the economy -- those who are having trouble finding a job or worried about falling out of the middle class -- and they are leaning towards Republicans. Obama has trails Romney among voters in the poll who say jobs are hard to find in their area (Obama gets 33 percent support), think the country is still in recession (43 percent) and say that they are struggling to remain in the middle class (35 percent). People who support Obama are the ones who feel relatively happy, economically. He gets 59 percent among people who feel "comfortably middle class."

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As Talking Points Memo's Brian Beutler points out, Obama's is pushing the issue of fairness just as Romney is sealing the nomination and just as the rest of us poor slobs are writing checks to the terrifying tax monster IRS. But even if people are mad about the economy and feeling poorer, that doesn't seem to be repelling them from the rich guy Republican. Perhaps that's why Romney's campaign issued a statement Monday saying Obama "is the first president in history to openly campaign for re-election on a platform of higher taxes," despite Democrats' confidence that Republicans would cave on the bill. Romney has a double-digit lead on Obama on a single issue, the Post's Dan Balz and Jon Cohen point out: which candidate will shrink the federal budget deficit. The Buffet Rule would cut the budget deficit by less than 1 percent over the next 10 years.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.