Pop Goes the Center

As it’s become clear that economic fairness will be a central theme of the Obama campaign, the forces of Democratic “centrism” are sounding their usual alarms. Last week, the group Third Way released a poll of “Swing Independents” (a group so coveted it must be capitalized) in 12 battleground states that showedObama leading Romney among them, 44-38. Good news for Dems, yes? Not so fast! Third Way claims its data show that the “fairness argument falls short with Swing Independents”—for example, 57 percent of them said it was more important to “fix the budget deficit,” while 38 percent said it was more important to “reduce the income gap.” This is squirrely stuff, as such polls tend to be. But Third Way’s conclusion is emphatic: Obama will lose the swingers if he keeps up his quasi-populist talk about the Buffett Rule and such. He will win them if he talks about "opportunity" rather than "fairness."

It's same gospel centrist Democrats have been preaching since the 1980s rise of the Democratic Leadership Council, which counseled a Clintonian turn away from Great Society liberalism as the only way to win national elections. As Ari Berman writes at The Nation, “The Third Way memo reflects the same kind of bad advice that self-proclaimed centrist Democrats bestowed upon Al Gore in 2000.” Polls showed that when Gore talked populist, his popularity soared; when he lapsed into New Democrat talk, he floundered. If that was true in 2000, when the economy was relatively dazzling, it’s bound to be the case during a recession that has produced a keen awareness of ever-growing economic inequality. What about fairness is not centrist, especially in 2012? The Obama campaign has already answered that question for itself: nothing.


So They Say

“I am about as excited by the Romney nomination as I am about going to the doctor for a digital rectal exam.”

Erick Erickson, RedState


Daily Meme: Romney's Baby

  • Romneycare was born on this day in 2006.
  • But, “as they say in the South, Romney won’t claim him.”
  • The Obama campaign, however, offers a hearty “happy birthday.”
  • And Massachusetts Dems hold a birthday bash.
  • Mitt was once euphoric about his “model for getting everybody insured.”
  • It’s working pretty darn well.
  • But now Romney says of the federal law it inspired, "If I’m the godfather of this thing, then it gives me the right to kill it.”
  • The Supreme Court might perform the deed first…  
  • … which will be catastrophic for many Americans.

What We're Writing

  • Amanda Marcotte: “’Hillz’ Clinton was always cool.” 
  • Steve Erickson writes that Obama needs to tread a careful balance between being a policymaker and a myth if he wants to be re-elected. 


What We're Reading

  • Congratulations: You’re on Romney’s VP list!
  • “Working-Class Wonk”: National Review profiles Ohio Senator Rob Portman, who’s probably likelier than you to be Romney’s pick.
  • Paul Ryan insists he’s no social Darwinist.
  • Newt’s Enablers: Interviews with the Gingrich donors (i.e., “elderly Southern conservatives”) who want him to keep going.
  • Mitt Romney’s small-dollar super PAC donors: Who? Why?
  • Labor starts a super PAC.

Poll of the Day

Obama leads Romney by five percent, a new high, in the swing state of North Carolina. 

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