Why Obama is Moving to the Center

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The choice of (another) prominent Clintonite, the centrist policy wonk Bruce Reed, to be Joe Biden’s new chief of staff is the latest signal that Barack Obama plans to emulate Bill Clinton’s post-1994 move to the middle rather than dig into a liberal bunker. It may be that Obama simply believes this is the only way to move an agenda forward. It is probably also at least partly in response to data like this:

According to this national McClatchy-Marist Poll, more than seven in ten registered voters — 71% — want to see compromise among political leaders in Washington in order to get things done.  Nearly one in four — 23% — disagree and believe Congressional Republicans should stand firm on their positions even if it means there is a stalemate between them and the Democrats.  Just 5% are unsure.  Little has changed on this question since McClatchy-Marist’s late November survey when 72% reported compromise should ensue, 25% thought Congressional Republicans should not waver on their positions, and 3% were unsure.

Granted, the poll asked voters about whether or not Congress should compromise, not the president. But it takes two to dance that tango.

Meanwhile, this finding would seem to contradict the line that only elites in Washington care about the deficit–and offer yet another reason why Obama may intend to work with with budget-trimming Republicans:

A majority of registered voters nationally — 53% — think that Congress’ top priority should be reducing the nation’s deficit.