Scott Rasmussen, founder and President of Rasmussen Reports, spoke at our annual conference last week and provided some insights on the presidential election and how voters feel about the issues facing our country today. Below are my notes from his fascinating speech:
- The Senate is close but should remain in Democratic control. The House will stay in Republican control.
- Job approval is the single most important number in determining the outcome of the election. Since December of 2009, President Obama’s job approval has been in the 47-48% range. This means he will get around 47-49% of the vote.
- The economy is the biggest issue for voters. Today 35% of people feel good about the economy – the same number as in early 2009. So while they aren’t any better off, they don’t feel worse either.
- For the Electoral College vote, Rasmussen has Obama with 237 and Romney with 235. Virginia is a must-win for Romney and it is one of the first states to report on Election Day (Rasmussen has Romney up by 2). Ohio is very close but there are no polls yet with Obama losing in the state. Scott thinks that Wisconsin could get interesting (currently tied at 49%). If Romney wins Virginia, he needs either Ohio or Wisconsin and another state for a win.
- It is hard to see what could move the numbers now – there are hardly any true undecided voters left. Republicans are very enthusiastic. A high turnout will benefit Obama.
- There is an overall rejection of political parties. There is a growing concern that something has gone fundamentally wrong in the country. Only 24% of people feel that today’s children will be better off than their parents. People are more pessimistic about the long-term vision for our country than at any point in our history.
- Voters are concerned about our long-term fiscal situation and understand that reform is necessary, including reforms to Social Security and Medicare. When people are asked to give up money and authority there is painful resistance. The political process today is not equipped to handle this. We will spend the next 10-15 years working to close the gap between elite opinion in Washington and public opinion.
- Change doesn’t come from political leaders. Politicians ratify what public opinion already did and then take credit for it. The public is always ahead of politicians. A good leader will tap into the public mood and give them a cause, but the decision was made ahead of them.
- “You don’t get a mandate by winning an election, you get it by governing.”