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Financially Struggling Voters Split Between Obama and Romney

President Obama campaign rally; photo by Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images

Supporters of President Obama listen to him speak during a campaign event Thursday in Des Moines, Iowa. Photo by Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images.

The Morning Line

As the nation prepares to spend a long weekend honoring the armed forces and gathering in backyards for barbecues, the economy continues to be the dominant issue in politics.

A new Washington Post/ABC News poll shows that middle-class white voters who say they are struggling financially — a key group that will influence who wins on Nov. 6 — overwhelmingly favor Mitt Romney over President Obama on some economic matters. The survey shows 58 percent of these voters believe the presumptive Republican presidential nominee would do more to advance their families’ economic interests, while just 32 percent think President Obama is better.

The Post’s Jon Cohen and Karen Tumulty write that the poll results “underscore a continuing challenge for Obama and the Democratic Party with white voters, and particularly those without college degrees — who, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, are significantly more likely to be unemployed than those with higher education.” It shows Romney “has a similar advantage on this question among white voters who have lost a job in recent years, or who have seen a family member or close friend face unemployment.”

But the poll finds troubling spots for Romney as well. From the story:

Whites and nonwhites — as well as voters across party lines — agree that Romney would do more than Obama to advocate for the economic interests of wealthy Americans. By a 23-point margin, voters say it’s Romney, not Obama, who would do more to advance the interests of Wall Street.

The president also continues to lead with non-white voters.

The unemployment rate and the feelings voters have about the economy will continue to be critically important as the campaign plays out this summer and fall.

In response to a story starring Democrats worried about the re-election campaign’s tactics, the president’s team tells Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei of Politico that Mr. Obama “has focused like a laser on the top priority for the American people: restoring economic security for the middle class.”

You can check out our Vote 2012 Map Center here or below to see how the unemployment rates look state-by-state.

And use the Electoral College calculator in the Map Center here or below to see how that overlaps with some of the battleground states.


Speaking at a rally in Des Moines, Iowa, on Thursday, President Obama took direct aim at Romney’s contention that he had overseen a “prairie fire of debt” by arguing that his administration has allowed federal spending to increase at the slowest rate in 60 years.

Mr. Obama added that Romney’s tax policies would worsen the country’s debt problem.

“He hasn’t told you how he’d paid for a new $5 trillion tax cut which includes a 25 percent tax cut for nearly every millionaire in the country,” the president said. “Five trillion dollars in new tax cuts — that is like trying to put a fire out — a prairie fire with some gasoline.”

The president’s visit came nine days after the presumptive GOP nominee stopped in Des Moines and delivered a speech calling for fiscal restraint.

“A prairie fire of debt is sweeping across Iowa and our nation, and every day we fail to act that fire gets closer to the homes and children we love,” Romney said May 15, putting the blame squarely on the president. “Rather than put out the spending fire, he has fed the fire.”

The president shot back Thursday that Romney’s “speech was more like a cow pie of distortion,” adding, “I don’t know whose record he twisted the most — mine or his.”

Romney campaign spokesman Ryan Williams responded in a statement Thursday: “When you listen to President Obama’s campaign speeches, it’s as if he’s forgotten that he’s been president for nearly four years and has a record to defend. President Obama has proven beyond all doubt that he is not serious about fixing our country’s spending problem.”


On Thursday’s NewsHour, Ray Suarez talked with Columbia Law School professor James Liebman about his report, “The Two Carloses — An Anatomy of a Wrongful Execution”.

Liebman detailed for Ray the overwhelming evidence that suggests Carlos DeLuna, who was executed in 1989 for the killing of a gas station clerk, was an innocent man. He called his report, the end of a several year effort, a “very big deal.” He said:

[W]e see a lot of evidence that this actually is seeping into the public consciousness at a time of a great debate about the death penalty. Five states have abolished in the last five years. California is going to have a big referendum.

So we think that this is what scholarship is about and why, at a law school, it’s our responsibility to put it out there for the public and let the public see. And we believe that, over time, this will become very much a part of the discussion, and it will be hard, very hard not to take it into consideration.

Watch the full segment here or below.


  • Peggy Noonan scored a phone interview with Romney in which he waxed philosophical about his campaign.
  • The Hill has the lead of the morning: “Mitt Romney has opened his checkbook for just one Senate race this cycle: Arizona, where one of his leading campaign surrogates is fighting with one of his cousins for the GOP nomination.”
  • The Associated Press’ Steve Peoples writes that Romney faced “tough questions about how his education proposals would affect black communities” during a visit to an inner-city Philadelphia charter school Thursday. He writes that Romney “struggled to defend his view that class sizes aren’t a major factor in educational success. Local African-American leaders also said his push for more two-parent families isn’t realistic in their community.”
  • An AP review of campaign finance data “found that only a few hundred donors who contributed to candidates like Newt Gingrich or Rick Santorum have changed course and gave to Romney’s campaign or the Republican Party in April.”
  • Gingrich, meanwhile, will join Romney and Donald Trump at a fundraiser in Las Vegas.
  • Obama campaign manager Jim Messina met with Senate Democrats to talk strategy, reports The Hill’s Bernie Becker.
  • Judy Woodruff writes about what she’s keeping an eye on with five months to go until the election.



  • Buzzfeed dubs this the weirdest campaign ad of 2012.
  • The New York Times Magazine devotes a cover story to the Wisconsin recall election.
  • Tom Barrett’s campaign released internal poll numbers Thursday showing the Milwaukee mayor within striking distance of GOP Gov. Scott Walker in Wisconsin’s June 5 recall election. The survey gave Walker a 50 percent to 48 percent advantage over Barrett. The margin is slightly closer than what has been seen in other recent polls, including one by Wisconsin Public Radio released earlier this week that put Walker up by five points. A Reason-Rupe survey released Thursday found Walker up eights points, 50 percent to 42 percent.
  • Hotline on Call found Walker and GOP groups have outspent Barrett and Democratic groups “more than 3-1 on TV ad buys” over the last three months.
  • Missouri taxpayers shelled out more than $1,100 for “a security camera to keep watch over a new bronze bust of conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh,” the AP reports.
  • Politico looks at Texas GOP Gov. Rick Perry’s attempt to influence political races and reassert his influence.
  • Herman Cain “is applying the same relentless promotional skills he displayed on the campaign trail to building a sprawling political-business machine to rebuild his tarnished brand and keep his voice–and his trademark 9-9-9 tax plan–in the national conversation,” Politico’s Kenneth Vogel and Juana Summers report.
  • Roll Call’s John Stanton finds Democrats taking sides in the redistricting-fueled member-vs.-member House primary in New Jersey.
  • Indiana Democrats will criticize GOP Senate nominee Richard Mourdock, who unseated Sen. Dick Lugar, for apparently removing statements supporting the Republican “Cut, Cap and Balance” plan from his campaign site.
  • While doing damage control to excuse away his most recent mishap, former Washington, D.C., mayor and current City Council member Marion Berry stepped in it again.
  • A brawl broke out Thursday in the Ukrainian parliament over a bill to allow the official use of Russian in certain parts of the country.
  • The NewsHour on Thursday bid a fond farewell to longtime foreign editor Mike Mosettig. Watch the tribute video shown in the newsroom here.

Katelyn Polantz and Alex Bruns contributed to this report.


All events are listed in Eastern Time.

  • President Obama has no public events scheduled.
  • Vice President Joe Biden delivers remarks to families left behind by fallen military service members at the 18th annual TAPS National Military Survivor Seminar and Good Grief Camp in Arlington, Va., at 11:45 a.m.
  • Mitt Romney has no public events scheduled.

All future events can be found on our Political Calendar:

For more political coverage, visit our politics page.

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Questions or comments? Email Christina Bellantoni at cbellantoni-at-newshour-dot-org.

Follow the politics team on Twitter: @cbellantoni, @burlij, @elizsummers, @kpolantz, @indiefilmfan and @tiffanymullon.

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