More buyer's remorse in the swing states

In 2012 Barack Obama managed to carry Iowa, Virginia and Colorado. But after getting a good look at his second term agenda, particularly his plan to provide “free” community college education for most people, the voters there seem to be having a change of heart. According to a new Quinnipiac poll, the shift in opinions is rather stark.

Iowa voters oppose President Barack Obama’s free community college plan by a 15-percentage-point margin, according to a Quinnipiac poll released Thursday.

The president in his State of the Union address last month proposed making community college free for more students. The poll found that 55 percent of Iowa voters disapprove of the plan and 40 percent approve. In Virginia, voters were more closely divided, with 51 percent opposed to the plan and 45 percent in support of it. In Colorado, voters were pretty much tied, with 49 percent against the plan and 46 percent for it.

Obama won all three of those swing states in 2012, but today voters there say they want the next president to take the country in a different direction—in Iowa, 58-34 percent; in Virginia, 61-31; and in Colorado, 58-34.

Perhaps those voters should have been paying a bit more attention when the President assured Vladimir Putin’s flunky that he would have more flexibility after his election. That flexibility has been on display in a number of policy areas, both foreign and domestic, and it doesn’t seem to be selling well in the heartland.

Of course, Obama doesn’t have to worry about winning any more elections so this is no skin off his nose. But these numbers probably have the staff at Ready for Hillary scrambling back to the war room and figuring out how Obama’s former Secretary of State and BFF is going to put some distance between herself and these policies. Hillary isn’t going to get the sort of automatic pass or benefit of the doubt that Barack Obama did in some of the tightly divided states and she’s going to have to shake off the rust and figure out how to make herself a salable package for a diverse electorate. For the time being she still seems to feel comfortable remaining in hiding and not commenting on any of the issues of the day, but that grace period is going to be running out soon.

Once Hillary officially throws her pillbox hat in the ring, she will be expected to answer questions. Does she support these Obama initiatives or will she be willing to throw him under the bus while he still has more than a year left in office? The latter question is probably less of a concern to be honest, because Barack Obama is enough of a political animal to shake it off and privately concede that she’s just doing whatever she has to do and saying whatever she has to say to win. It’s a subject with which the President is intimately familiar.