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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Greenberg and Carville on the Results

"The White House had the best and the brightest, but they, what would Bush say, misunderestimated, whatever the word is,” said Democratic consultant James Carville Thursday at a breakfast with reporters held by the Christian Science Monitor.

Pollster Stan Greenberg said Obama downplayed “an almost Depression-like economic crisis,” by inaccurately projecting the magnitude of job losses. “They predicated everything on the jobs coming back from March. They’re still in the middle of this crisis. This is a total misframing of this moment. Some of it’s policy ... a lot of it is giving the people in this crisis a sense of what the scale of it is, and what has to be done to get out of it,” he said.

Carville, who helped mastermind Clinton’s 1992 run for the presidency, said the failure of the White House to tailor a more populist economic message likely cost Democrats at least two dozen House seats

At Democracy Corps, Greenberg and Carville analyze the election and particularly point to independents:

The independents were an immense problem in 2010. Indeed, the Democrats’ support among independents dropped from an 18-point Democratic advantage in 2006, to 8 points in 2008, and turning Republican by a painfully familiar 18 points in 2010. We have to get inde-pendents back to at least even where it had been before 2006. With our current broad base, we can have big elections in that realm, though obviously more is better.

Part of the problem lies in the character of the off-year electorate. The independents were more male, white, and senior than in 2006 and 2008. A presidential electorate will address some of the problem.

But much more important is the proportion of independents who called themselves con-servatives. That was up from 34 to 42 percent. And while some of that may have been due to Tea Party activism and the determination of conservatives to oppose Obama, that process began in the fall of the 2008 election. There has been a conservative reaction against the government’s response to the crisis from the beginning, even before Obama took office. From the outset of Obama’s presidency, there has been a steady rise in the number who call themselves conserva-tive and in the standing of the N.R.A. (but not pro-life groups).