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Results matter. Speeches don't.

You've all heard me make this point a million times, but it's nice to see John Harwood hammer the idea that a display of “empathy” would save the election for Obama. “We have a controlled experiment,” he quotes Stan Greenberg, one of Bill Clinton’s pollsters, as saying. “Clearly Bill Clinton had the ability to connect emotionally. He got slaughtered in 1994.” And of course Reagan -- and, for that matter, Clinton -- was lower in the polls at this point in his presidency than Obama is.

By Ezra Klein  | September 27, 2010; 12:09 PM ET
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Seriously, Ezra?

I can read the correlations between economic conditions and election outcomes that you've posted, and as I recall, r-squared isn't 1. There's a strong relationship, but a significant amount of variation that economic factors don't explain. It matters how persuasively an administration explains the bad economy and its own policies.

OK, maybe that's not the same as "empathy," but it's folly to say Obama and the Dems are powerless to affect the midterms. It could easily mean, e.g., it's the difference between 8 lost Senate seats and 4.

Posted by: Sophomore | September 27, 2010 1:38 PM | Report abuse

Improve the economy and the problem is solved.

"It's the economy, stupid".

Posted by: maritza1 | September 27, 2010 1:39 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, wild idea here, but maybe what's needed isn't more empathy, but as we liberals have been saying again and again, better policy. Jobs programs, stimulus programs, and so on.

Posted by: stonedone | September 27, 2010 2:47 PM | Report abuse


Better Policy and the fortitude to actually stand up for it.
Case in point the middle class tax cuts in the Senate. The Senators are reasoning that because public opinion is in favor of them and people 'think' the Dems will do this, that they don't have to actually do them right now.
That thinking is that, why do something if you are up in the polls already?
The proper phrase is winning the battle but losing the war.
If the Dems were to force the vote in the Senate, even if they lose and lose badly, they will have tried. That will energize the base and in the end win much more than just looking good on the tax cuts.
This doesn't even take into account showing the hypocrisy of the GOP on the issue.

Posted by: rpixley220 | September 27, 2010 3:39 PM | Report abuse

Yes, results matter. But you also need a progressive base that is willing to applaud and support those results. Otherwise, you end up with the situation we are in today, in which a progressive Democratic majority has achieved more important progressive change, including slowly pulling our economy out of the ditch that the Republicans drove it into, than any administration since LBJ, yet people seem to think they have done nothing.

Posted by: WinningProgressive | September 28, 2010 12:43 AM | Report abuse

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