The bad news keeps piling up for congressional Republicans. A new Reuters/Ipsos poll has found that more Americans blame the GOP for unemployment than blame President Obama.
The latest Reuters/Ipsos poll found that 23% of those polled blamed congressional Republicans for the nation’s high unemployment rate. Sixteen percent believed President Obama was to blame. Seven percent blamed congressional Democrats, and 32% blamed all of the above.
The traditional and conventional political wisdom is that presidents get the credit or blame for the economy. Mitt Romney based his entire presidential campaign on the assumption that Americans would vote for him because they blamed Obama for the economy. Mainstream media pundits predicted a close election based on their belief that voters would look at the economy, and blame the president. The entire congressional Republican agenda of obstruction since 2010 is based on the belief that if they keep the economy bad enough, people will blame the president.
It has always been that way, right? Except, it isn’t that way today.
Many Americans follow what is going on politically more closely than the media, congressional Republicans, and the Republican Party as a whole give them credit for. (The 32% in the poll who believed that all of the above is to blame is likely a result of the national frustration over the paralysis that has gripped our legislative process.) There is an assumption of collective ignorance in both conservative and media circles. We have long been told by the media that they don’t cover politics because people don’t care about it. Congressional Republicans assumed that they could obstruct Obama’s agenda and the president would get blamed because the American people aren’t paying attention. The long held belief has been that most Americans only pay attention to politics in presidential election years.
This may be true as far as details are concerned, but polling has consistently demonstrated that people who are paying attention appear to be a lot more aware of the broad strokes of our national political discussion than Republicans think.
The reason why the obstruct and blame strategy of congressional Republicans continues to fail is because many Americans see through it. President Obama’s better understanding and application of his bully pulpit powers has helped to shed light on the congressional Republican strategy.
The bad news for congressional Republicans is that their assumption that America will blame Obama for their obstructionist handiwork continues to be proven completely false.
The conventional wisdom is wrong. Even though he is president, Obama is not being solely blamed for unemployment.
Whether the issue is unemployment, taxes, the debt ceiling, or the fiscal cliff, the American people aren’t stupid. They understand exactly who deserves the bigger share of the blame between President Obama and congressional Republicans.
And they don’t think it is President Obama.