Can Obama win the election on social issues?

posted at 2:01 pm on June 22, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

Team Obama may have given up hope for economic change in this election cycle, according to Politico.  With the economy sinking further into stagnation, if not into a new recession, Democrats have begun to push social issues as the front for Barack Obama’s re-election, and think they have an edge that will lead them to victory:

Americans trust President Barack Obama over presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney on social issues, 52 percent to 36 percent, according to a new AP-GfK poll released Friday. …

Democrats are counting on the president’s edge on social issues to make up for a weak economy. The Obama campaign has emphasized Romney’s opposition to abortion rights as part of a broader campaign to woo female voters.

If they’re relying on the AP poll, they’re going to be very disappointed in the results.  The sample D/R/I without leaners is 29/22/33, with Republicans absurdly underrepresented (the 2010 split was 35/35/30).  With leaners, the split is 49/39/12.  Even the 2008 race, with its Democratic wave, didn’t produce a D+10 turnout.  And even with that kind of advantage, the main social issue on which Obama has explicitly campaigned — gay marriage — actually trails its opposition.

That would be bad news even if voters were focused on social issues in this election.  A new Pew poll this week, though, shows that the two social issues on which Obama rests these hopes are the two lowest priorities for voters in this election:

Economic conditions are at the forefront of most voters’ concerns. When asked to name the issue they would most like to hear the candidates talk about, 56% mention one of three economic topics: the economy broadly (42%), the job situation (13%) or the budget deficit (4%). Health care is the only other issue garnering more than one-in-ten mentions (18%).

A separate close-ended question echoes these economic concerns. When offered six choices, a plurality of voters (35%) say that jobs will be the top issue in deciding their vote for president this year, followed by the budget deficit (23%) and health care (19%). Another 11% say Social Security will matter most to them, with relatively few citing immigration (5%) or gay marriage (4%) as the most important issue affecting their vote.

Jobs top the list for both certain Obama supporters (37%) and swing voters (38%), while certain Romney supporters are about equally likely to say jobs (30%) as to say the budget deficit (33%). Health care is more frequently named by certain Obama voters (26%) than either certain Romney (14%) or swing voters (15%).

Another interesting takeaway from Pew: independents favor Romney by five, 49/44.  It shows Obama up overall, but as The Hill notes, Romney’s catching up by focusing on what voters find important:

New polls released this week reveal President Obama holds a very tight lead over Mitt Romney, but that the GOP nominee is closing the gap by focusing on economic issues.

According to a Pew Research poll released Thursday, 50 percent of registered voters support or lean toward supporting Obama, while 46 percent support or lean toward Romney. That’s a very narrow lead for Obama, with a margin of error is plus or minus 3 percentage points for the poll.

Some believe that Team Obama thinks it can run the 2004 George W. Bush playbook and win a base-turnout election by firing people up over social issues.  That ignores two key differences in the two elections.  First, liberals cannot win base-turnout presidential elections; their numbers are too low.  They need to win independents, which means that the base-turnout strategy is likely to backfire.  Second and more importantly, Bush could run that kind of campaign in 2004 because the economy was rapidly growing, and unemployment was at 6% and falling (with civilian participation rates stable).  Pocketbook issues were nowhere near as urgent as they are in 2012.    Trying to run the Bush 2004 playbook and focus on social issues in this economic environment will play right into Team Romney’s strategy of painting Obama as out of touch and out of ideas.


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

Comment pages: 1 2

Delete and Ban and Take Away All Drinking Priviledges

Some things you just shouldn’t joke about…!

Seven Percent Solution on June 22, 2012 at 3:06 PM

Lolz!

OmahaConservative on June 22, 2012 at 3:12 PM

He and Ann need to focus on their dressage horses.

inthemiddle on June 22, 2012 at 2:16 PM

Just for you, gnat-brain.

Schadenfreude on June 22, 2012 at 3:14 PM

He might try and might win and with us running the worst candidate since Gore, Today the contrast with Mitts speech and Obamas was striking, Made Mitt look like a chump.

If we lose can we please please please once and for all banish all est figures to the outskirts of the party.

boogaleesnots on June 22, 2012 at 3:15 PM

Schadenfreude on June 22, 2012 at 3:11 PM | Delete | Delete and Ban

The kids up in Duluth or the idiot or Williams of Politico?

kingsjester on June 22, 2012 at 3:16 PM

Politico.

Again.

Why?

logis on June 22, 2012 at 3:20 PM

Smells like desperation, mhhhhh.

Schadenfreude on June 22, 2012 at 2:58 PM

Yes its always one big collective family.

Until you want to sleep over, mooch off their larder and forget to clean up after yourself… but that is what collectivism is all about! Somehow these elites want everyone else to live in a collective, but to live a more upscale lifestyle than the proles do.

ajacksonian on June 22, 2012 at 3:20 PM

kingsjester on June 22, 2012 at 3:16 PM

Why did you add the “Delete and Delete and Ban” to my reference?

Schadenfreude on June 22, 2012 at 3:20 PM

but to live a more upscale lifestyle than the proles do.

ajacksonian on June 22, 2012 at 3:20 PM

Why you should always fight to destroy and starve the looters. The moochers are just dummies in their modern day plantations, just fools for votes.

Schadenfreude on June 22, 2012 at 3:21 PM

He might try and might win and with us running the worst candidate since Gore, Today the contrast with Mitts speech and Obamas was striking, Made Mitt look like a chump.

If we lose can we please please please once and for all banish all est figures to the outskirts of the party.

boogaleesnots on June 22, 2012 at 3:15 PM

Obama made a speech?

I doubt it made Mitt look like a chump. It consisted of two things, maximum: a) more promises of free stuff b) regurgitated lines from his last hundred speeches.

BKennedy on June 22, 2012 at 3:22 PM

Schadenfreude on June 22, 2012 at 3:20 PM | Delete

I’m not doing it. Something awfully scrwewy’s going on awound heah…

kingsjester on June 22, 2012 at 3:25 PM

I am having all sorts of technical difficulties with the site today. It seems to be a java based issue. Is it just me or is something completely screwy with the site?

Bmore on June 22, 2012 at 3:28 PM

If Obama can win on social issues alone, I think that would directly tie the death of this nation to extending voter rights to those for whom they were never intended.

DanaLynn on June 22, 2012 at 3:28 PM

Can Obama win the election on social issues?

No. End of story. NEXT!

Turtle317 on June 22, 2012 at 3:30 PM

Bmore on June 22, 2012 at 3:28 PM

There are all sorts of odd glitches today…

OmahaConservative on June 22, 2012 at 3:30 PM

……I’m a guy…and got an email from Mooch telling me that JugEars was my husband too!…my wife’s not pleased…I’m not into the old Mormon marriage thing…and I don’t want to be geh…I see enough wenises in here!

KOOLAID2 on June 22, 2012 at 2:32 PM

Oh my God! Obama has more wives, is more polygamous, than the Mormon Romney.

Gladtobehere on June 22, 2012 at 3:30 PM

Oh man 2004, you remember that don’t you? When people had jobs?

JohnBrown on June 22, 2012 at 3:35 PM

Can Obama win the election on social issues?

Maybe he can, maybe he can. By inviting classy social activists like this to the Whitehouse.

LegendHasIt on June 22, 2012 at 3:41 PM

But why should he bother with messy social issues when he can just buy the election with YOUR money:

Mortgage debt ploy could sway 24 million voters to back Obama re-election
President Obama can declare immunity for hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens and can also unilaterally order the broad refinancing of mortgages on millions of “underwater” homeowners in order to reduce principal payments and debt, The New York Times’ (Nobel Prize Winning Economist) Paul Krugman told the liberal “Take Back the American Dream” conference on Tuesday.

LegendHasIt on June 22, 2012 at 4:01 PM

Not unless by “Social Issues” you mean “Millions of Dead People Rising from Their Graves and Meeting at the Precincts for a Good, Old-Fashioned Voting Good Time.

TheClearRiver on June 22, 2012 at 4:28 PM

Democrats are counting on the president’s edge on social issues to make up for a weak economy.

If so, then Democrats are even more insane than I’d thought.

KS Rex on June 22, 2012 at 4:51 PM

Trust the AP to puff up Barry.

Exit question: HOW MUCH CAN I BUY WITH A BUNCH OF SOCIAL ISSUES IN MY WALLET?

GarandFan on June 22, 2012 at 4:54 PM

Social issues? Brought up by the dems and leftists who try to nationalize them because they can’t win anywhere but in a handful of states.

As I tell my kids, who made them national issues? Then they get a history lesson.

If you want it left to the states, then defeat those who made it a federal issue – the dems.

I hope the One pushes it – it is a net loser – as gay marriage only wins in states Obama will win anyway and hurts him everywhere else. And on illegal immigration it polls badly with everyone except the racist La Raza types. Bring it on, please. And abortion is now a democrat loser issue too as the right to life groups have done a wonderful job over the last forty years – along with medical science – in showing it to be much more than just choice.

When the house is crumbling you will buy anything – I don’t think you can win the election getting the west coast, the northeast and Illinois and fight like hell to hold Pennsylvania. He is now fighting for his life in the great lake states absent Illinois.

Please more gas.

Zomcon JEM on June 22, 2012 at 5:06 PM

Isn’t it interesting that the Pew survey didn’t offer abortion as a “most important issue” option, but did offer so-called ‘gay marriage’.

I think there are many more of us who treat right to life as a paramount issue, but with respect to marriage, recognize that easy divorce and remarriage and non-marital child rearing (neither of which is susceptible of any quick legislative fix), are far bigger problems than same sex issues. The latter is not only less consequential in its own right, but is also one where the left can more plausibly play its omnipresent “bigotry” card.

I think the pollsters and the press need to be called out on their selective use of social issues.

Ronald Wallenfang on June 22, 2012 at 5:22 PM

If they’re relying on the AP poll, they’re going to be very disappointed in the results. The sample D/R/I without leaners is 29/22/33, with Republicans absurdly underrepresented (the 2010 split was 35/35/30). With leaners, the split is 49/39/12. Even the 2008 race, with its Democratic wave, didn’t produce a D+10 turnout.

The AP/GfK poll showed Obama leading only 47/44, so that Obama didn’t even get all the Democrats plus D-leaners, while Romney got all Republicans and R-leaners plus 5%. In the real electorate, which might be D+3 at most, Romney would win using the internals of this poll.

Steve Z on June 22, 2012 at 5:40 PM

No, Obama can’t win with social issues, but Mitt could lose with them, if he were dumb enough to go there. And he isn’t. Fortunately, we didn’t nominate Santo or Newt or one of the others. We nominated the smart one!

MJBrutus on June 22, 2012 at 5:50 PM

Hey, ignore the economy and answer me this.

WHO DO YOU THINK WOULD WIN IN A BIKE RACE?

Are you persuaded to vote for Obama yet? No?

Ok… try this.

WHO WOULD WIN A PIE EATING CONTEST?

What? No I’m totally serious here, who would win a Pie eating contest?

Romney? Really? Ok, ignore that… hmm.

Who do you think could hold their breath longer?
Yes we’re still talking about Presidential candidates; why do you ask?

gekkobear on June 22, 2012 at 5:56 PM

I agree Obie can’t win using social issues..But I think Team Romney should stick with attacking Obie on the Economy where Obie chances are small and fading..:)

Dire Straits on June 22, 2012 at 6:05 PM

George McGovern campaigned to his base in 1972 and got massacred.

jaime on June 22, 2012 at 6:19 PM

obaka can’t “win” any new voters than he had in 2010…

ladyingray on June 22, 2012 at 6:21 PM

I support Obama 100% on abortion and I am more pro-gay marriage than Obama is. This would put me on the left of the Democratic Party on this issues. I will vote for Romney because I have this crazy preference for a functioning economy, an immigration policy that won’t make a walk down the street in my neighborhood as dangerous as walk in Sao Paulo because we import so many poor people, and a foreign policy that doesn’t believe that the United States and Israel are blights on the rest of the happy nations of the planet.

thuja on June 22, 2012 at 6:31 PM

thuja on June 22, 2012 at 6:31 PM

An independent thinker who knows how to prioritize. You’re after me own heart :-)

MJBrutus on June 22, 2012 at 6:35 PM

IOW, Can Obama win the election with squirrels?

Unless a large majority of independent voters feel pretty good about the economy and their financial future, I doubt it.

But I hope he tries. Because even then he will probably lose. My guess is Romney is a social moderate and so are most independent voters. Promoting very liberal social positions, to go along with the left wing socialist positions he has taken on the economy and government, won’t win him many votes with independents.

Obama cannot win taking far left economic and social positions unless he gets absolutely massive turn out from his left wing base, and at the same time many independents and Republicans stay home. I do not think that has ever happened in a US Presidential election.

Team Obama is grasping at straws.

farsighted on June 22, 2012 at 6:40 PM

Team Obama is grasping at straws.

farsighted on June 22, 2012 at 6:40 PM

Very good point!!..That seems to be all they have left!..:)

Dire Straits on June 22, 2012 at 6:44 PM

Nope, and he cannot win with fake polls either!

dogsoldier on June 22, 2012 at 6:51 PM

Very good point!!..That seems to be all they have left!..:)

Dire Straits on June 22, 2012 at 6:44 PM

And once they grab a handful of them, they can go shove ‘em.

platypus on June 22, 2012 at 6:52 PM

platypus on June 22, 2012 at 6:52 PM

Thumbs up!..:)

Dire Straits on June 22, 2012 at 6:54 PM

thuja – you and I are on the opposite ends of the social issues – but I have never liked that fact that California and Colorado must have the same take on them – Roe v Wade was just terrible jurisprudence – plain bad. Isn’t federalism about local populations making their own decisions on these things? Why are the feds involved at all. Neither Romney or Obama’s opinions should matter at all. I would be happy to fight it out so to speak with the knowledge that one state may be different than another. You win some you lose some.

But I am right with you on the functioning economy, sane immigration policy and acknowledgement that a functioning democracy with liberal rights for all of its citizens surrounded by a sea of 12th century thinking might be worth our support – and that we aren’t so terrible ourselves.

Zomcon JEM on June 22, 2012 at 7:01 PM

He and Ann need to focus on their dressage horses.

inthemiddle on June 22, 2012 at 2:16 PM

And you are a grade A jerk.

Ann took horse riding to deal with her MS. Horses are great therapeutic approaches to dealing with chronic conditions, and have been used that way for decades, to help heal emotional and physical ailments.

And dressage is incredibly demanding of a rider. It takes years of work and practice to even approach a level capable of showing in the shows that she did. Even though Romney was not even close to my choice, as a horse person I find I have to defend her from disgusting people like you.

For you to completely ignore the truth despite multiple explanations only highlights what a sad sick person you must be inside.

dominigan on June 22, 2012 at 7:19 PM

He should stick to the economic issues. That’s where his strength is.

Tomolena1 on June 22, 2012 at 7:37 PM

Wait…they actually asked the question of “social issues” in as many words?

They do realize that 95% of the country doesn’t read political blogs all day and would have no idea what unspoken codes are being transmitted through the words “social issues,” right?

Hell, I support Obama on social issues. He seems much more, you know, social than Romney.

HitNRun on June 22, 2012 at 7:43 PM

Hilarious. Obama would lose much worse over social issues. Same-sex marriage in particular is a huge loser.

Obama’s political instincts are truly awful.

tom on June 22, 2012 at 8:41 PM

You mean, like start a race war and then call martial law to end the elections? Yup, probably.

LoganSix on June 22, 2012 at 3:02 PM

You mean martial law on marital law?

INC on June 22, 2012 at 3:03 PM

Obama may be thinking, “Why not both?”

tom on June 22, 2012 at 8:41 PM

Why are we seeing mod buttons like this?

OmahaConservative on June 22, 2012 at 2:14 PM

Seems to be a glitch on the blog today. That said, next round of open registration, I call dibs on “Delete and Ban” for my new nickname. :-)

Mary in LA on June 22, 2012 at 9:09 PM

Actually, Ed, the second part of the caption is wrong, it should read, “This isn’t 2008!!” Obama now has a record and I just don’t believe he can win. I may be saying what other people are thinking but are afraid to say, but I just don’t believe Obama can win.

If the Supreme Court throws out Obamacare and his stimulus package has been shown to never stimulate, what can he run on? If he honestly believes he can win an election by tearing down everything around him, he’s living in a dream world.

I could be wrong, but the country I was born and raised in is not going to elect anyone who makes it a point to denigrate the competition, diminish the greatness of the country, and try to degrade the American dream so that, if you do make it, you become the enemy.

bflat879 on June 22, 2012 at 9:17 PM

Obama really loves Hispanics, just not with silverware. This, is a racist act.

MJZZZ on June 22, 2012 at 10:32 PM

thuja – you and I are on the opposite ends of the social issues – but I have never liked that fact that California and Colorado must have the same take on them – Roe v Wade was just terrible jurisprudence – plain bad. Isn’t federalism about local populations making their own decisions on these things?

I mostly agree. I would like to see Roe v Wade and the issue returned solely to the states. But I don’t see how you can get around the full faith and credit clause of the Constitution about gay marriage.

thuja on June 23, 2012 at 8:32 AM

Pretty easy actually – a gay person can get married to someone fo the opposite sex – I realize they don’t want to. But they can.Same as anyone else.

In addition this is another area where the state reigns supreme. If you can buy the Roe v Wade problems, gay marriage is no different from a legal doctrine perspective. Marriage is a contractual arrangement regulated by the states.

Zomcon JEM on June 24, 2012 at 6:46 PM

Comment pages: 1 2