Monday, September 22, 2008

When The Rising Tide Drowns You

No doubt it's the economy that's causing the uptick in support for Barack Obama and a sudden wave of anxiety about John McCain's candidacy. Here's some recent results from a couple of polls that illustrate the changing fortunes caused by the economic shocks of the last few days.

Recent polls are looking modestly better for Barack Obama, who appears to have regained a slim lead over John McCain. According to both RK and NLS, Survey USA is reporting that Obama is up by 51 to 45 percent over McCain in Virginia. Women are now breaking for Obama by 55 percent and McCain only has 39 percent. Men in Virginia still support McCain by 50 to 46 percent. And young people go for Obama by 55 percent. Those over 65 favor McCain by 49 percent over 47 percent for Obama. So Virginia remains a battleground state.

An even more encouraging poll was just reported (h/t to Huffington Post) by CNN. According to their results, Americans blame the Republicans by a 2 to 1 margin for the economic crisis and believe that Democrats would be better at handling it than Republicans. Specifically, they trust Obama more than McCain.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – A new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation Poll suggests that by a 2-to-1 margin, Americans blame Republicans over Democrats for the financial crisis that has swept across the country the past few weeks — one factor that may have contributed to an apparent increase in Barack Obama’s edge over John McCain in the race for the White House.

In the new survey, released Monday afternoon, 47 percent of registered voters questioned say Republicans are more responsible for the problems currently facing financial institutions and the stock market, with 24 percent saying Democrats are more responsible. One in five of those polled blame both parties equally, and 8 percent say neither party is to blame.

The poll also indicates that more Americans think Obama, the Democratic presidential nominee, would do a better job handling an economic crisis than McCain, the Republican presidential nominee. Forty-nine percent of those questioned say Obama would display good judgment in an economic crisis, 6 points higher than the number who said the same about McCain. And Obama has a 10 point lead over McCain on the question of who would better handle the economy overall.
Even better, listen to where Obama has made his recent gains.

Where did Obama make his gains?

"In two core McCain constituencies: Men, who now narrowly favor Obama. And seniors, who have also flipped from McCain to Obama," says CNN Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider.

When including only those people most likely to vote, the results are pretty much the same: Among likely voters, Obama has a 4 point lead, 51 percent to 47 percent.

The new CNN poll of polls also shows Obama with a similar advantage — 49 percent for Obama to 44 percent for John McCain.

"The economy has always been considered John McCain's Achilles’ heel, and the CNN poll of polls started to show an Obama edge in the middle of last week — just as the financial crisis began to hit home for many Americans," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.
And the Sarah Palin effect may be dimming too.

Another factor could be McCain's running mate, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. Thirty-five percent of those questioned have an unfavorable opinion of her, up 8 points from our previous survey. And two-thirds believe she and her husband should testify in the Alaska investigation into her firing of a state official.

"Change has always been Obama's strong suit, but McCain and Palin clearly made inroads into that issue during the GOP convention," said Holland. "Palin, in particular, was seen as an agent of change when she made her first appearance on the national stage. That may be changing now."
Palin may well turn out to be what the music industry calls a one hit wonder. The choice of her as a running mate seemed so startling, it indeed was a game changer - temporarily. And in a time of peace and prosperity, the ploy of picking an attractive, young, unknown female as a running mate might have worked. They might even have gotten away with the "two mavericks" theme. Certainly, the media was prepared to be entranced by Palin, and McCain for choosing her.

Then reality threw a bucket of cold water in everybody's faces. In a nation still running up a deficit from a poorly chosen war of choice in Iraq, the federal government is now being called upon to bail out the fat cats, who got so greedy with their tricky and complicated investments, their predatory loans and mortages, their creative and complicated derivates which nobody can decipher, and their lack of liquidity. And the public is downright sour about it.
The poll also sheds more light on how Americans feel about the financial crisis. Twenty-two percent say they are scared about the crisis, with two-thirds concerned. Eleven percent say they are not worried.

Most Americans think that the programs to deal with the financial crisis currently being worked on by Congress and the Bush administration will be unfair to U.S. Taxpayers — but they think those programs will ultimately help the economy.

In general, six in ten believe that federal government should step in and address the financial crisis; 37 percent say the government should stay out. But when it comes to last week's bailouts, support slips to 55 percent — and given the concerns about how future programs will affect taxpayers, it conceivable that public support for the plans that Congress and the administration are working on could fall even lower.
For what it's worth, I think the plan will be both necessary to keep us from total economic collapse and it will be as unfair as President Bush and Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson can get away with. Otherwise, why would they try to ram through something like this.
Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.

In short, the so-called "mother of all bailouts," which will transfer $700 billion taxpayer dollars to purchase the distressed assets of several failed financial institutions, will be conducted in a manner unchallengeable by courts and ungovernable by the People's duly sworn representatives. All decision-making power will be consolidated into the Executive Branch - who, we remind you, will have the incentive to act upon this privilege as quickly as possible, before they leave office. The measure will run up the budget deficit by a significant amount, with no guarantee of recouping the outlay, and no fundamental means of holding those who fail to do so accountable
In addition, Bush and Paulson don't want to address CEO compensation packages or relief for ordinary citizens caught up in housing bubble. It appears that when it comes to bailouts, they want to protect the greedy robber barons who caused this, right up to protecting their golden parachutes, while leaving ordinary working people, as usual, on their own to sink or swim. And they don't mind tying a rock to that working stiff's feet to make sure floating isn't an option for him. The rising tide not only isn't lifting all ships, it's drowning the American Dream for ordinary people.

This time, though, I'm not sure it's going to work for the Republicans and their cronies. I believe we can say about Reaganomics, "stick a fork in it - it's done!

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