Three key factors are shaping the current electorate: volatility, the economy, and voter anger and dissatisfaction, according to Kevin Madden, senior advisor for Governor Mitt Romney. “A lot of the electorate is fed up with Washington,” said Madden at MDMA’s annual meeting in June. “Congress is at a historical low as far as approval ratings.”
Volatility. Voter opinions have been shifting considerably, as many are formed based on the debates and advertisements. “When voters are volatile, it’s very hard to tell who they’re going to blame and how they’re going to react to situations,” said Karen Finney, MSNBC political analyst and democratic strategist, who also spoke at the MDMA meeting. “The voter anger and dissatisfaction is a liability for both sides [Democrats and Republicans].”
Madden anticipates a very narrow persuadable segment of voters (about 8%). “That’s essentially where you’re going to see the two campaigns and the two parties fight over in about 8 to 11 battleground states... all the way through [un]til November 6,” he said. “We’re looking at a very close race right now.”
Economy. The economy is the number one issue for more than half of voters in this year’s election. Nearly every concern voter’s have, whether it’s debt, healthcare, or education, is somehow tied into the economy. The 8.2% unemployment rate continues to fuel apprehension over jobs. In addition, spending and deficits are adding to the anxiety, as voters question the direction in which America is moving. “People worry that we’re headed in the wrong direction when it comes to fiscal sanity,” said Madden.
Voter Anger and Dissatisfaction. Feelings of discontent and frustration are “off the charts,” according to Madden, who suspects voter sentiment could be worse that the tea party rallies three years ago. He cited a recent poll that placed voters at 22% satisfied and 77% dissatisfied, a troubling figure for an incumbent.
“Ultimately, a big piece of what the messaging is going to come down to is this idea of who is better equipped to handle the challenges that we’re facing. Governor Romney is making a very strong argument based on his experience as a business person. I think if we end up having a cataclysmic event that deals with the economy that could actually benefit him,” said Finney. “President Obama is making the argument that his experience as President is relevant to his vision of where he wants to take the country.”
Maria Fontanazza is managing editor of MD+DI. Follow her on Twitter: @mariafontanazza.
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