What an Election of Choice Looks Like

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The Obama Administration’s latest windmill tilting on its plan to juice the economy takes the form a colorful infographic posted to the White House blog under the heading “What a Jobs Plan Looks Like.” The two columns provide a comparison of Democratic and Republican stimulus proposals in the Senate, replete with the rosiest poll numbers available and the requisite quote from Washington’s favorite fiscal referee, Mark Zandi. A White House blog post isn’t exactly a powerful tool of legislative or electoral persuasion, but it’s a actually a very good representation of what Team Obama wants to make the 2012 election about: a simple, binary choice between “President Obama’s Plan” and the “Republican Alternative.”

Two advantages that Obama holds heading into next year are that he’s personally more popular than other politicians–certainly more so than members of a Congress that inspires historic levels of contempt in the American public–and that his fiscal policy proposals, when laid out in the abstract, generally enjoy more support than Republican alternatives. By far his biggest problem, and likely a much more influential factor, is that a majority of Americans are dissatisfied with the job he’s done in his first term, and downright despondent about the trajectory of the country and its limping economy. In other words, the President needs 2012 to be an election of choice, not a referendum on his performance to date. The Obama White House is clearly trying out ways to communicate that. The Obama Campaign can’t be too far behind.

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