Voters Turning Inward
by Jason Williams, Thu May 05, 2011 at 03:13:31 PM EDT
Sabato on the prospect of a "bin Laden" bump for Obama/Democrats in 2012?
[...] the killing of bin Laden, as ordered by a Democratic president, gives Democrats a convenient and easy-to-understand answer whenever challenged by Republicans on national security: “Republicans had seven years under George W. Bush to get bin Laden. They failed. Democrats got him in a little over two.”
That potentially powerful argument may mean a lot when the country inevitably refocuses on national security in some future election. But whether it matters much for next year’s presidential election, when the focus will likely remain on the economy, is very much an open question.
This week Pew released their Political Typology report, which concludes voters -- especially swing voters -- aren't paying as much attention. In 2005, military strength vs. diplomacy was the question dividing voters clearly on partisan lines, with disafecteds and undecideds left to pick a side. The new report shows that while there is still a split on that issue, it's primarily between Republican subsets not Democrats and Republicans. The majority of voters have turned "inward." Blumenthal:
As the report explains in more detail, we see even less division among the groups on a variety of foreign policy and national security issues, including the war in Afghanistan, the use of force in Libya, the trade-offs between privacy and safety from terrorism and the role of foreign trade.
What now divides the party groups more clearly are attitudes about the efficiency and worthiness of government and the social safety network. These are also the issues now most likely to create cross-pressure on true swing voters. For example, 45 percent of the Democratic-leaning Post Moderns worry that "government is almost always wasteful and inefficient," while 61 percent of the Republican-leaning Disaffecteds agree that "the government should do more to help needy Americans, even it if means going deeper into debt."
National security never fully leaves the equation, but any role it plays in 2012 will boost Democrats, and Republicans will shy away from the issue entirely. Swing voters will be busy pondering the value of Social Security, Medicare, and the health of the economy.
Probably why we're seeing Republicans run away from Paul Ryan's budget -- which all but 6 House Republicans voted for -- as fast as they can.