Stan Greenberg

What 45 undecided voters from the Denver suburbs thought of the debate

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Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg is co-author (with James Carville) of the recently released book, “It’s the Middle Class, Stupid.” So I had to chuckle earlier today when Greenberg revealed that his newest research shows that Obama might do best by focusing on the poor. More specifically, Greenberg and his colleagues have learned that arguments about the impact of Republican economic policies on the working poor—represented in their latest study by the Paul Ryan budget—have the most power to move certain groups of voters to support Obama. Which voters?

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I’m hardly the first to seize on the new Washington Post poll showing Obama’s continued struggles with independents. Heck, I’m not even the  first writer at this magazine to weigh in. But there’s a wrinkle of the story that’s received less attention, and so I think it’s worth piling on a bit more.  According to the Post’s write-up, and to many of the commentators who’ve kibitzed about it, Obama’s sudden retreat among independents—57 percent now disapprove of his handling of the economy—is mostly a function of rising gas prices.

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Liberals have been deeply disappointed in the Obama administration's failure to either push for a larger stimulus or, failing that, to pin the blame on the Republicans for blocking any further stimulus.

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No group in American politics gets more respect than independent voters. Pundits and reporters probe what these allegedly moderate citizens think about this issue and that candidate, major party strategists seek the golden mean of messaging that will attract independents to their camp and/or alienate them from the opposing one. Presidential nominees and aides struggle to come up with phrases and settings that will soothe or excite them.

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Last month I published a piece suggesting that while the odds of a Republican takeover of the Senate were not high, the possibility could no longer be ignored. My article was not well received. Critics argued that (among my many sins), I had cherry-picked surveys, given credence to the (allegedly) fatally flawed Rasmussen results, and worst of all, ignored Nate Silver’s superior methodology. In the ensuing four weeks, a number of articles arguing roughly what I did have appeared.

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Earth to House Democrats: It’s time to push the panic button. But don’t take my word for it; consider the evidence. Exhibit A: One of the country’s savviest political scientists, Emory’s Alan Abramowitz, has just published an analysis that says the GOP will pick up 39 seats in the House this November. On the good news side for Democrats, Abramowitz finds more safe seats this year than in 1994 (145 versus 114) and fewer that are marginal (42 versus 55) or that lean Republican (69 versus 87). And there are only 15 open seats this year in Republican-leaning districts, versus 24 in 1994.

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Ever since the Clinton era, the Democratic party has been fairly ruthless about identifying political liabilities and severing them.

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Small Ball

In early December, the White House announced four finalists for the president’s Securing Americans Value and Efficiency (SAVE) Award--a competition that plumbed the depths of the federal bureaucracy for ideas on how the government could save money. One finalist proposed streamlining the way the Forest Service forwards campground fees to the government. Another suggested that the Social Security Administration allow people to book appointments online rather than only by phone.

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