There’s a Reason the Dems are Blaming Bush

Because it is the only message they have.   That doesn’t mean it will move voters.  But, blaming former President George W. Bush is one of the few areas where voters still give President Obama the benefit of the doubt, so Democrats will work with what they have. 

The problem Dems have is that Republicans are increasingly being seen as better for the economy than Dems.  Karl Rove pointed out in the Wall Street Journal:

In its poll released in July, Benenson asked, “Generally speaking, who is more responsible for the recent economic recession—President Barack Obama or President George W. Bush?” The answer was Mr. Bush 53{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}, Mr. Obama 26{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}, and “Don’t know” 21{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}.

But answers to important issues like who’s responsible for the recession are rarely binary. Buried in the “Third Way” data was a different answer that went unmentioned in its covering memo. The question of who’s responsible for the recession was asked a second way, with more possible culprits.

Here the biggest blame for the recession went to “big banks and Wall Street” (34{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}), followed by “American consumers who lived beyond their means” (24{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}). Thirteen percent blamed Mr. Obama, 20{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} blamed Mr. Bush, and 9{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} were still in the “don’t know category.” Put another way, at least 80{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} didn’t blame Mr. Bush, as Mr. Obama obsessively does.

My recent Battleground Senate survey for American Crossroads found similar results to the first question by “Third Way” referenced by Rove (who is a supporter of American Crossroads). 

We split sampled two questions about the economy, underscoring that the messaging on the economy is crucial to the perspective voters take. The first question was:

President Obama’s economic policies have run up a record federal deficit while failing to end the recession or slow the record pace of job losses. 53{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}


President Obama’s economic policies helped avert an even worse crisis, and are laying the foundation for our eventual economic recovery. 43{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}

The second question was:

President Obama is more responsible for the problems with the economy. 33{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}


Former President Bush is more responsible for the problems with the economy. 52{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}

Thus, Democrats will want the fight to focus on former President Bush, while Republicans will want the campaign message about the economy to focus on the impact and result of President Obama’s policies.  Republicans need to focus on the current, not the past.

Public Opinion Strategies