Election Day Wasn't a Referendum on Obama's Policies
If it was, why do polls show that voters are woefully misinformed about those policies?
In the immediate aftermath of Tuesday's midterm elections, the narrative of choice among the pundit class is that the GOP victories -- 60 House seats, six Senate seats -- indicate a "referendum on Obama's policies." Not only is this a theme all over the cable news networks, but on Thursday morning, Ohio Congressman John Boehner, the next speaker of the House, issued a statement saying, "President Obama must decide whether he will heed the will of the people and work with us to address their concerns, or continue on a path the people have rejected."
It's a good story, this one about the people striking back against Obama's policy decisions, especially if you're a Republican commentator champing at the bit to make Obama a one-term president.
The only problem is that it's not true.
In the direct lead-up to Nov. 2, two polls emerged that didn't actually ask for whom people planned on voting, and yet anyone who saw them knew that the Republicans were going to win huge come Election Day. The first was from The New York Times, which found that fewer than one out of every 10 Americans knew that President Obama had actually cut their taxes. This from an article titled, "From Obama, the Tax Cut Nobody Heard Of":
In a troubling sign for Democrats as they head into the midterm elections, their signature tax cut of the past two years, which decreased income taxes by up to $400 a year for individuals and $800 for married couples, has gone largely unnoticed. In a New York Times/CBS News Poll last month, fewer than one in 10 respondents knew that the Obama administration had lowered taxes for most Americans. Half of those polled said they thought that their taxes had stayed the same, a third thought that their taxes had gone up, and about a tenth said they did not know.
It was a troubling indication of the electorate's ignorance, and a few days later, Bloomberg Businessweek had more bad news:
A Bloomberg National Poll conducted Oct. 24-26 finds that by a two-to-one margin, likely voters in the Nov. 2 midterm elections think taxes have gone up, the economy has shrunk, and the billions lent to banks as part of the Troubled Asset Relief Program won't be recovered.
In fact, during his brief tenure, Obama has cut taxes by $240 billion, the economy has grown and the government expects to make a profit off of the TARP funds. And yet Bloomberg Businessweek reports, "[b]y 52 percent to 19 percent, likely voters say federal income taxes have gone up for the middle class in the past two years." Also, lest you think the Tea Party, anti-tax zealots have their thumbs on the scale on this one, consider this: 43 percent of Democrats also believe Obama has raised taxes for the middle class.