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Democratic strategists say voters unconvinced on economy's progress

June 12, 2012|By Christi Parsons
  • The wind picks up President Barack Obama's tie as he walks back to the Oval Office after welcoming the National Football League Super Bowl champions New York Giants to the White House in Washington.
The wind picks up President Barack Obama's tie as he walks back to the… (Chip Somodevilla / Getty…)

President Obama is hitting hard this week on the idea that the economy is making progress under his stewardship.

A series of interviews with local news outlets already this week makes his point clear, featuring the word “progress” several times in relation to the economy.

Advisers to the president say the argument is based on fact, and it clearly forms the heart of their message this summer.

“We have made some substantial progress,” White House press secretary Jay Carney says.  “We have seen the economy grow. We have seen it produce almost 4.3 million private sector jobs.”

But the approach is coming under some critical review -- not just from Republicans, and not just as a result of the flap over Obama’s choice of words in describing the job creation on his watch. (It was clear from the context that he didn't mean the economy was "doing fine," but that unfortunate choice of words has come back to haunt him nonetheless.) 

A new paper from Democracy Corps, founded by Democratic strategist James Carville and Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg, argues that key voters don’t believe the economy is on the mend. Democrats will face “an impossible headwind” this fall if they don’t move to a new narrative, they contend in the paper, "Shifting the Economic Narrative." 

The report is based on findings from four focus groups, convened in late May and made up of targeted voters – independents, weak Democrats and weak Republicans in Columbus, Ohio,and Bala Cynwyd, Penn.

“These voters are not convinced that we are headed in the right direction,” the report concludes. “They are living in a new economy – and there is no conceivable recovery in the year ahead that will change the view of the new state of the country.”

“They actually have a very realistic view of the long road back and the struggles of the middle class,” the authors write, “and the current narrative about progress just misses the opportunity to connect and point forward.”

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