While most of the media attention is focused on the Republican presidential nomination, especially with the Iowa caucuses rapidly approaching on January 3, 2012, Democratic pollsters are developing strategies to win over an electorate that has grown disenchanted with the current state of affairs in Washington. And they have their work cut out for them: recent polls show a dismal approval rating for Congress that hovers around 12 percent.
Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg talked about this work with political journalists at the Monitor Breakfast on December 16, 2011. The program is now available on demand at FORA.tv.
Greenberg, who is CEO of Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, a political polling and campaign strategy firm, recently surveyed independent voters in a number of battleground states like Florida and Wisconsin. He discovered that Democratic candidates are gaining ground in GOP-controlled House districts. Many swing voters are frustrated by the Republicans seeming refusal to work across the aisle on issues such as the deficit and jobs creation. Six in 10 voters wanted their representatives to work with President Obama.
The story, however, is slightly different in Michigan, a Democratic stronghold that has long suffered from high unemployment and a stagnant economy. Some independent voters are leaning more toward Republican candidates, especially in two key suburbs of Detroit. Mitt Romney has gained ground on President Obama in these suburbs, which are located in Macomb and Oakland counties, and in some polls holds a 5-point lead. It was 30 years ago during the 1980 presidential election when disaffected blue-collar voters in both counties bolted to support the Republicans, a group of which Greenberg dubbed the “Reagan Democrats.”
Even though Romney has slipped in national polls thanks to a recent surge by Newt Gingrich, Greenberg believes that eventually the former governor of Massachusetts will eventually come out on top—and Democrats need to put the pressure on him sooner rather than later.