by Ken Feltman
Radnor’s analysis of focus groups shows that among voters who are most likely to vote in November, attitudes toward three aspects of President Obama’s style and communications have crystallized:
1. Obama reacts to events too slowly.
2. Obama is too professorial.
3. Obama and his Administration almost always make the more liberal choice.
Regarding the first, likely voters cite numerous examples, with the BP oil spill the most frequently mentioned. A Nevada voter said: “Deliberation is great but there’s not that much time when there’s an emergency.”
The second point grates on likely voters. They suggest that Obama is miscast as president and would be better suited to the college classroom or the judicial bench. A California voter: “He lectures like in the classroom. He’s never run anything and can’t seem to get a hold of his job. Maybe he can be kicked upstairs somehow.”
The third, however, may be the most telling. Likely voters agree that, given two choices, Obama and his Administration seem to shun the moderate position in favor of the more extreme or liberal position. Probe a little deeper and two more things come to light:
1. Moderates who supported Obama in 2008 have decided that they will not support him in 2012 unless the alternatives are toxic (which is possible).
An Illinois voter: “He’s taken the suspense out of it. He always goes left.”
2. Democrats who supported Obama two years ago are frustrated that Obama and his Administration are reflexively to the left of the country.
Whether on illegal immigration, taxes, foreign policy or the New York City mosque, Obama seems out of step with the prevailing view in the country. (NOTE: This analysis was completed before Obama’s weekend comments, and his modification to his comments, on the mosque. Those comments are certain to confuse and confound Democrats and inflame opponents of the proposed location of the mosque.) A Pennsylvania voter: “So many of his policies are in confrontation with the average voter.”
Expect Democratic candidates to put more and more distance between themselves and the president. After November, depending upon the depth of the Democratic House and Senate losses, expect to hear about Democratic alternatives to Obama in 2012. Do not expect Obama to change willingly. Radnor’s White House contacts say that Obama is stubborn and convinced that his opponents are wrong.