Lesson from the New York Times Poll: Have a Plan for the Economy

Today’s poll from The New York Times tells the story of a country focused solely on frustration over the bad economy. Jobs and the economy, added together, are the top concern of 60% of Americans. (No other issue comes close to those figures, including the budget deficit, which sits at 3 percent.)

Additionally, the poll write-up reinforces the notion that we have discussed at NDN, neither party is where it wants to be right now:

The findings suggest that there are opportunities and vulnerabilities for both parties as they proceed into the final seven weeks of the campaign.

A case for Republicans: Voters are remarkably open to change, even if they are not sure where Republicans will lead them. Most Americans, including one-third of those in the coalition that elected Mr. Obama, now say he does not have a clear plan to solve the nation’s problems or create jobs. Democrats remain highly vulnerable on the economy.

A case for Democrats: They are seen as having better ideas for solving the country’s problems. The public steadfastly supports the president’s proposal to let tax cuts expire for the wealthiest Americans. And far more people still blame Wall Street and the Bush administration than blame Mr. Obama for the country’s economic problems.

Voters have a darker view of Congressional Republicans than of Democrats, with 63 percent disapproving of Democrats and 73 percent disapproving of Republicans. But with less than two months remaining until Election Day, there are few signs that Democrats have made gains persuading Americans that they should keep control of Congress.

So, while neither party is where it wants to be right now, there is good in this than bad for the President and his party. The American people are still far more with him than the alternative, they just angry and frustrated, and rightfully so. It’s also inarguable that the President’s ideas have been far better then the opposition's, and the truth is borne out in the polling.


The president’s overall job approval rating is 45 percent, with 47 percent disapproving. On the economy, his rating is worse, with 41 percent approving and 51 percent disapproving. When asked whether Mr. Obama has a clear plan for solving the nation’s problems, 57 percent responded that he did not, yet twice as many give him more credit than Republicans for having a plan.

The good news for the Democrats right now is that they have the ability to increase their standing with the American people, and the path is very clear: they must convince the country they have a plan for the economy. The President has a strong case to make about what his administration done over the last two years, and that it’s all been part of a plan to fix an economy with serious problems that have been playing out for the last decade. The next month and a half are all about making the American people believe that he has a plan for the future and his opponents have one that just doesn’t work.

For the Republicans, they have to step up if they really want to take advantage of this poor economy, which means they too have to offer a serious economic plan for the country. It's something the American people don't think they've done yet.