Thursday, October 20, 2011

Atlanta occupiers look to GOP

On a recent visit to Occupy Atlanta in Woodruff Park, the Atlanta Conservative Examiner recently discovered that many of the activists there are so dissatisfied with President Obama that they are considering Republican presidential candidates in 2012. Although not a statistically valid sample, the candidate who was mentioned the most by the activists was libertarian-leaning Republican, Rep. Ron Paul. Several also expressed interest in pizza executive and talk show host Herman Cain.

The anecdotal data from Occupy Atlanta reflects the same disappointment with President Obama that was recently reported in a poll by Douglas Schoen in the Wall Street Journal. Schoen posted the complete results of the poll on his personal web site. The poll of Wall St. occupiers reveals that the New Yorkers disapprove of President Obama’s job performance and that many may stay home from the polls in 2012 even though they are politically active progressives.

Unlike their fellow occupiers on Wall St., the Atlanta occupiers seem more moderate. Several of the signs around Woodruff Park point out that the activists there aren’t against all corporations or capitalism in general, but that they do oppose the collusion of business and government at the expense of taxpayers.

These reports confirm the earlier polling showing that President Obama’s support is eroding badly. Obama is losing ground in the three demographic groups where he held a heavy advantage in 2008: blacks, Hispanics, and young voters. Two of these groups, blacks and young voters, were heavily represented at Occupy Atlanta.

It is unsurprising that people are becoming disillusioned with President Obama and the Democrats. The president’s vaunted stimulus bill and subsequent economic initiatives failed to budge the unemployment rate and the economy has remained sluggish even though the country technically emerged from the recession in 2010.

Two of Obama’s core demographics, blacks and the young, have been disproportionately hurt by the high unemployment rate. According to CNN, black unemployment, which is over 16 percent, is at its highest rate since 1984. Youth unemployment is at a staggering 48 percent according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Both are much higher than the national average.

Far from being an outpouring of support for the Democrats, the occupation movement is an expression of disillusionment in both the Democratic Party and President Obama. Many of the activists realize that it is the Obama Administration that has pursued the majority of the corporate bailouts and even institutionalized “too big to fail” in the Dodd-Frank financial reform law. Likewise, Obama’s numerous connections to Wall St. are well known among the left.

It seems that President Obama has succeeded in unifying America only on the notion that the country is on the wrong track. A new Rasmussen poll shows that 85 percent of Americans no longer believe that the United States is headed in the right direction. That is about as close to unanimous as any poll is likely to get and it reflects deep discontent on both the right and the left.

The path to victory for Republican candidates in 2012 is to focus on economic issues. Virtually the entire country agrees that the U.S. is headed in the wrong direction. Most of these people also believe that President Obama’s policies are not working. Republican candidates should focus on the issues where most people agree rather than on social issues where public opinion is more evenly divided.

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