“[Progessives] believe that this election should be another referendum on the war, and, perhaps even more important, about the way America was misled into that war. That belief is one reason many progressives fervently support Barack Obama, an early war opponent, even though his domestic platform is somewhat to the right of Mrs. Clinton’s.” That’s Paul Krugman in today’s NYT, talking directly to the position of many, many people I know. His case for Clinton:
As an early war opponent myself, I understand their feelings. But should and ought don’t win elections. And polls show that the economy has overtaken Iraq as the public’s biggest concern.
True, the news from Iraq will probably turn worse again. Meanwhile, a hefty majority of voters continue to say that the war was a mistake, and people are as angry as ever about the $10 billion a month wasted on the neocons’ folly.
Yet for the time being, public optimism about Iraq is rising: 53 percent of the public believes that the United States will definitely or probably succeed in achieving its goals. So anger about the war isn’t likely to be decisive in the election.
The state of the economy, on the other hand, could well give Democrats a huge advantage — especially, to be blunt about it, with white working-class voters who supported President Bush in 2004.
Even at its best, the Bush economy left most voters unimpressed: only once, in January 2007, did a slight majority of those questioned by the USA Today/Gallup poll describe the economy as “excellent” or “good,” rather than “only fair” or “poor.” A year later, only 19 percent of voters had a good word for the economy.
This collapse in economic confidence has occurred even though the full economic effects of the implosion of the housing market and the freezing of the credit markets have yet to be felt. As more things fall apart, perceptions will only get worse.