Polls show that voters care about jobs and the economy, first and foremost. Perry can point to his record as Texas governor, one of the few states with a record of job creation during the recession. Whether he’s responsible for that record is a debatable point, but politically, it is a clear winner. Second on the list is concern over government spending, and Perry’s book is a virtual treatise against excessive federal spending.
Perry will have to address his views on entitlements, but his vulnerabilities on that front pale in comparison to Obama’s vulnerabilities on the economy. Only 35 percent of senior citizens approve of the president’s job performance, according to Gallup, one of his worst-performing demographic groups. With seniors so down on the president, it’s hard to see Perry’s book quote being a game-changer.
For a case study, look at two special elections that are coming up this month, one in a solidly-Democratic New York City district and one in a rural, Republican-leaning district in Nevada. In both elections, the Democratic candidates have lambasted the Republican nominees for supporting entitlement cuts and holding extreme views on the social safety net. In the decidedly liberal confines of Queens and Brooklyn, the Republican candidate has actually embraced such controversial views, and even said he opposed a bill that provided benefits to victims of 9/11.
The Democrats’ attacks haven’t resonated.