We didn’t circle back around to the NBC/WSJ poll after the initial tease yesterday morning, but Joe Scarborough and his team certainly did. Mark Halperin, who was one of the few national journalists to note that Barack Obama didn’t outline a second-term agenda in his second debate, discovers an important clue as to why, on today’s Morning Joe. While Obama has been vaguely offering a stay-the-course argument through economic stagnation and a 31-year low in workforce participation, more than six in ten likely voters want a big change from Obama’s first-term policies:
“People don’t want him to finish [what he’s started.] People want a change in direction.”
The D/R/I on this poll is 32/26/39, not a very impressive sample this close to the election. The respondents voted for Barack Obama by eight in 2009, 45/37, with 13% who didn’t vote at all. The percentage of non-white respondents matches that of the 2008 election, 26%, which is arguably a good model for this one, if slightly optimistic for Obama in light of recent measures of enthusiasm among his key demographics.
Why might 62% of people look for significant change? Obama only gets a 46/52 approval rating on the economy, for one, and Romney edges Obama in the ability to generate jobs, 45/41. Only 45% expect the economy to get better in the next year, and only half think it’s recovering at all. Furthermore, Obama trails by 13 against Romney on dealing with deficits, 35/48.
At 62%, the economy can’t be driving the entirety of the demand for change, but it’s a big part of it. And most worrisome for Obama, it’s a bigger number than George W. Bush faced in 2004 (55%), when change meant war policy and not the economy. Without a clear second-term agenda that promises a change in direction, voters are likely to go to the challenger for the change they clearly desire, and which this President has failed to provide.