Saturday, March 8, 2008

Hillary's winning issue

In a post about the outcome of the Texas and Ohio primaries I wrote:
If I was Obama, I would presume the upcoming election will really be about the economy; that jobs matter more than Iraq; and I would fiercely define "national security" around the economic issues. Obama would be well advised to take a brave stand on the most contentious issues of our day.
Economist Paul Krugman has since provided some interesting figures to bolster the argument. "The state of the economy . . . could well give Democrats a huge advantage . . . " Krugman notes that public optimism about Iraq in the US has risen to 53%, yet only 19% have anything positive to say about the economy. He adds, "Democrats . . . can contrast the Clinton boom with the Bush bust; they can make the case that Republican economic ideology, with its fixation on privatization and deregulation, helped get us into this mess."Here is where Clinton looks stronger than Obama. Krugman cites polls showing Obama led by 19% among those Ohio voters who say Iraq is the biggest problem; but "Clinton led by 12 points among the much larger groups of voters citing the economy as the most important issue -- and by 16 points among those who cited health care." Frankly, this is devastating news for Obama. In a crucial state for the Democrats, he did not succeed in convincing voters that he is the man to fix the economy.

I believe Obama has painted himself into a box. In order to look like the "uniter" -- and win over more independents -- he blames "divisiveness" among politicians for the country's problems. Hillary Clinton, on the other hand -- having no such self-image to maintain -- points her finger at the Republicans and cries foul.

In a recession, middle-class US voters don't want "a uniter," they don't want to hear any more debates about the Iraq war, they want what the Republicans have proven they cannot deliver: a thriving US economy.* Hillary has found her winning issue.

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