Obama Fails at Fixing Economy, But Leads Polls By Using Wedge Issues

Ask anyone what this election will boil down to and almost everyone will give you the same answer: the economy and jobs. Those are definitely my top priorities.

And the polls only confirm it. A Pew Research Center study show that more than eight-in-ten voters say the economy (86%) and jobs (84%) are very important issues in deciding who to vote for this fall. Those two issues rank at the top of the list, followed by the federal budget deficit and health care, both tied at 74%.

In fact, according to that same study, the four issues at the bottom of the list that voters ranked as least important were immigration (42%), abortion (39%), birth control (34%), and gay marriage (28%).

At the same time, a Rasmussen poll shows that voters trust Republican nominee Mitt Romney on fixing the economy more than Democrat incumbent Barack Obama by a 49% to 39% margin.

Logic would then dictate that Romney should be killing Obama in the polls. But he’s not. The latest RealClearPolitics average has Obama with a slim 3 point lead over Romney.

So what gives? I thought that, as James Carville famously quipped 20 years ago, “It’s the economy, stupid!”

Maybe not anymore. While the clear majority may think it is, perhaps too many Americans easily get distracted with issues that they rate at less important (when asked anyway). And the David Axelrod marketing machine is looking to capitalize on this in 2012.

When it comes to economic performance and job creation record, it’s no contest. During Obama’s term as President, his administration has added more debt in less than 4 years than the previous administration added in 8 years, racking up record trillion dollar deficits and eclipsing our entire GDP, leading to a first ever credit rating downgrade. The labor force participation rate is at a record low and unemployment has stubbornly been stuck at over 8%. Inflation is rising and average household net worth has fallen by 40%. This administration won’t even touch entitlement reform; those programs of which are now eating up 65.1% of tax dollars and going completely broke within 20 years. Uncertainty over federal tax rates, health care liability, and the future of our economy is not incentivizing global businesses to expand, invest, and hire here at home.

Now compare that with Romney’s record as Governor of Massachusetts, where he cut spending by $1.6 billion, balanced a budget without raising taxes, and lowered unemployment which turned a $3 billion deficit into a $700 million surplus and gave the state a credit rating upgrade.

So if the economy, jobs, and the budget deficit are the top three most important issues of 2012, as Pew shows, just how the heck is Obama leading Romney by a slim margin in the polls? If anything, you would think more voters would be willing to given someone with a proven track record of success a chance as chief executive instead of sticking with someone who’s failed in all three categories.

Welcome to the art of distraction. Americans may think immigration, abortion, birth control, and gay marriage are not as important as fiscal and employment issues, but that’s not stopping the Axelrod marketing machine. They will make those issues matter.

Polls show that Romney is leading Obama among men, middle class voters, and even independents now.  So Obama dangles subsidized birth control in his Affordable Care Act and the Axelrod marketing machine turns Republican resistance against the bill into a fabricated “War on Women,” giving Obama a 12-point lead among women. Obama then waits for an election year to exempt young illegal immigrants from deportation because, all of a sudden, “it’s the right thing to do,” and the Axelrod marketing machine convinces Latinos that Republicans are against immigration altogether, giving Obama a 40-point lead over Romney in that demographic (even though Gallup shows that registered Latino voters rank the economy, unemployment, and health care higher than immigration among priorities). And of course, Obama offered token support for gay marriage even though he’s essentially maintaining the status quo by leaving legalization up to the states, which the Axelrod marketing machine then turned into a “victory” for gay rights supporters, and prompting Newsweek to dub Obama as America’s “First Gay President.”

In other words, if you’re not winning the debate – change the conversation. Americans are unified in their concern over this administration’s failed policies on the economy and job creation. Obama’s re-election campaign is miserably losing that debate, so the strategy now is to distract Americans from the 800-hundred-pound economic gorilla in the room with dogs, contraceptives, gay marriage, deportation, and bullying, divide Americans against each other using these wedge issues, then convince each one of these separated groups that they need dependency on big government (along with higher tax rates and more bureaucracy to support it) “for their own protection.”

And according to the polls, it’s working.

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John Giokaris

John Giokaris has been contributing to PolicyMic since February 2011. Born and raised in Chicago, John graduated from Loyola University Chicago with a double major in Journalism and Political Science and is currently earning his J.D. at The John Marshall Law School. John believes in free market principles, private sector solutions, transparency, school choice, constitutionally limited government, and being a good steward of taxpayer dollars. His goals are to empower/create opportunity for citizens to use the tools at their disposal to succeed in America, which does more to grow the middle class and alleviate those in poverty than keeping a permanent underclass dependent on government sustenance indefinitely. Sitting on the Board of Directors for both the center-right Chicago Young Republicans and libertarian America's Future Foundation-Chicago, he is also a member of the free market think tank Illinois Policy Institute's Leadership Coalition team along with other leaders of the Illinois business, political, and media communities. John has seven years experience working in writing/publishing, having previously worked at Law Bulletin Publishing, the Tribune Company, and Reboot Illinois. His works have been published in the Chicago Tribune, U.S. News & World Report, Crain's Chicago Business, Reboot Illinois, Townhall, the Law Bulletin, and the RedEye. He's also made appearances on CBS News, PBS, and Al Jazeera America.

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