For much of the year, President Obama and his re-election campaign have faced a strategic dilemma. On the one hand, they were eager, if not desperate, to remind voters about economic progress. On the other, they couldn’t run the risk of appearing out of touch and butting heads with a frustrated electorate.
Indeed, I often think about a Democracy Corps focus-group report, highlighted by Greg Sargent in June, which found voters simply didn’t want to hear talk of economic progress. Indeed, as far as swing voters were concerned, the progress was practically non-existent.
For months, Obama and his team have taken that advice to heart, and in turn, they struggled to find a balance between highlighting encouraging news and recognizing voters’ discontent. But very recently, that’s begun to change – as the economy has picked up steam and public attitudes have improved, Obama has become far less cautious about touting, and at times even boasting, about the issue he used to sometimes avoid.
Take a look at the video above, in which the president yesterday listed a litany of economic improvements. Had Obama tried this in June, it might have been too great a risk. In October, the greater risk is failing to remind Americans about the good news.
“He saved us from the brink of disaster,” one Obama aide told Zeke Miller. “It’s about time he took some credit for that.”
As we talked about on Wednesday, this may be a little too late for some voters, many of whom made up their mind about the state of the economy months ago, and probably won’t be swayed by the lowest unemployment rate in four years and the best housing numbers in nearly five years.
But for those who may still be on the fence, or Obama voters who aren’t sure whether to show up on Election Day, it’d be political malpractice for a president in a very tough re-election fight to keep encouraging economic news under wraps. Obama has a good story to tell – it was his leadership that arguably saved the nation from economic ruin – and if he doesn’t tell it, no one will hear it.