GOP Pollsters Say Obama Must Pull Voters Back from Brink of Anger

Conservative advocacy and polling group Resurgent Republic's Ed Gillespie, a former Republican National Committee Chairman, and Ed Goeas, a veteran GOP pollster, argue independents like President Obama but don't believe he's made the economy better.

Michael Bonfigli / The Christian Science Monitor
Veteran Republican pollster Ed Goeas, shown here in a file photo from 2009, was among pollsters from conservative group Resurgent Republic who shared the findings of focus groups held in swing states of Pennsylvania, Florida, California and Virginia. Among other findings, those groups showed independent voters like President Obama but are increasingly frustrated with the nation's economic path.

Ed Gillespie, former Republican Party chairman, is on the board of Resurgent Republic, a conservative polling and advocacy group. The firm asked pollsters Ed Goeas, Glen Bolger, and John McLaughlin to hold focus groups with independent voters who back President Obama. Mr. Gillespie and the pollsters were guests at the July 8 Monitor breakfast in Washington.

How independent voters in the battleground states of Pennsylvania, Virginia, Florida, and California view Mr. Obama's economic policies:

Gillespie: "These independents who voted for him and generally approve of him, they don't blame him for the economy. But at the same time they are not kidding themselves that he made it any better."

Independent voters' mood:

Goeas: "They are frustrated and very close to anger.... What the administration is trying to do is not [to] convince everyone that the economy is better. What they are trying to do is pull them back from that brink of being angry. Because once they cross that brink, they never come back."

Consumer confidence as an election predictor:

Bolger: "When [the] consumer confidence [index] is in the 90s, presidents tend to get reelected. [For] those who have lost reelection, the [average] consumer confidence index from [the University of] Michigan has been 79.... The last consumer confidence index number from Michigan was 75.... Americans have lost confidence in this economy ... in a way that is stunning."

Views of working middle-class Republican voters:

McLaughlin: "They are out there hurting.... They are not just a silent majority anymore. They are an angry silent majority waiting for the next election."

Catching up with Democratic election spending:

Gillespie: "President Obama, the DNC [Democratic National Committee], the labor unions, and affiliated liberal organizations ... outspent Senator McCain and the RNC [Republican National Committee] and the right-leaning groups by about $400 million.... The left will still outspend the right in this presidential election cycle, but the right-leaning groups will close that [gap] for the first time."

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