October 2, 2002
PICK YOUR POISON:For now, war talk trumps the economy (David M. Shribman, 10/1/2002, Boston Globe)
[P]ublic-opinion polls suggest that Democrats are not considered such good stewards of the economy that the issue would provide them the advantage they need against Bush and the Republicans.
To be sure, the public clearly favors Democrats on the issue of Social Security. But, in the greatest irony of this election, Social Security would have been a far bigger issue if the economy had remained robust. Then proposals to privatize Social Security would have been aired fully. But now that the Dow Jones industrial average is hovering at altitudes last seen four years ago - if you don't think that was a long time ago, consider that it was when President Clinton was facing impeachment following the release of the report of independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr - hardly anyone is talking seriously about putting stable Social Security money in unstable markets. Call collect if you find a Republican arguing that your retirement money should be placed in a stock fund right now.
Then there is the broader question of the stewardship of the economy. A new poll shows that even in this time of economic dislocation, the public, by a ratio of 42 percent to 39 percent, believes the Republicans would do a better job on the economy. And those are the results of a poll done by Democratic consultants. That GOP advantage is right at the margin of error, but it is a sobering figure for Democrats. There could be a Democratic uptick in the next week or so, after the third-quarter 401(k) statements - possibly the real October Surprise of 2002 - arrive in voters' mailboxes, but right now the Democrats' big hope offers them little hope indeed.
Which gives us the delightful image of the Democrats trying desperately to move the national conversation from an issue where they're getting killed--national security--to one where they're merely losing--the economy. If these kinds of numbers hold true they might allow the GOP to eke out a draw in this mid-term election, just barely holding the House and not losing more than one Senate seat (net).
Posted by Orrin Judd at October 2, 2002 8:11 AM