Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Assessing the "droppers" and "switchers"

The group Third Way recently did an interesting poll of what they call "droppers" and "switchers." The former are those who voted for President Obama in 2008 and stayed home in 2010. The later are those who voted for President Obama but switched to vote Republican in 2010.

Here's how Jonathan Cowan (President and Co-Founder of Third Way) describes what they learned from the droppers.

Droppers - the name we’ve coined for folks who voted for Obama in 2008 but dropped off in 2010 - have come home, and while an aggressive turnout operation is necessary, with the expected ground game they will be with him next year. By a margin of 50 to 8 they blame the GOP for the near default in August, and three-quarters already say they’ll vote for the President in 2012 (only three percent say they’ll definitely vote for the Republican)...

The idea of putting the tea party and Republicans who are beholden to it in charge of the White House will ensure that key groups like young voters and Latinos will mobilize for the president next year...

Things aren't as clear for the switchers, as Ruth Marcus summarizes.

The switchers represent a bigger headache. Less than a third said they would definitely or probably vote again for the president. A full quarter said they are irretrievably gone.

In all, six in 10 switchers are persuadable, prompting the question: What would it take to do the trick?

It won’t be easy. As the word cloud depicts, these voters continue to like Obama. They think he’s smart and sincere. They give him credit for trying. But the next two words encapsulate their twin doubts: that he is too liberal for their tastes and not effective enough for the country’s needs.

The "word cloud" that Marcus refers to was compiled from the response of switchers to the question about what one word they would use to describe President Obama.

Contrary to what the poutragers would have us believe, these voters DO care about the deficit and are worried that President Obama is too liberal when it comes to those kinds of issues. But they support his position that we'll need to raise taxes to reduce the deficit.

The bigger issue seems to me to be about the strategy of the Republicans (with assists from the media and the poutragers) in painting President Obama as ineffective.

I'd suggest that many of these voters are likely persuadable. We in the pragmatic progressive blogosphere know that our President has been incredibly effective and that the only obstruction to further progress comes from the Republicans.

So there's our task for the next year...bring home the switchers!


  1. The question for me is: ineffective at what? Putting a beat down on the Tea Party? Fixing the economy? If the switchers are going to rely on that term to describe the President, then it's up to us to call them out on it and make them describe exactly what it is they believe are his short-comings.

  2. People have been hearing the "ineffective meme" for the entirety of Obama's administration. It's a deliberately contrived approach and one which we should not let go unchallenged. When I am around people who are discussing the President and hear about his "ineffectiveness" I give them a short course on what is and isn't doable with the current crop of GOP legislators and I recite for them the many accomplishments he's had. It wouldn't be so necessary if his so-called, self-described "base" hadn't spent the last two years undercutting him and criticizing him in every possible way while ignoring the overwhelming responsibility of the GOP for the current mess.