Saturday Survey: Progressive Winds

obama signs hand

President Barack Obama signs a hand as he greets people at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

In the run-up to the 2008 elections, LA Progressive surveys were a big hit with our readers, often drawing the most traffic of anything we would do during the weeks that the surveys ran. If anything, with so many daunting challenges facing America today, the stakes are even higher with the 2012 elections, so we’ve updated our survey efforts, planning now to run a new short survey every Saturday.

No one would confuse our results with anything done by Gallup, Rasmussen, or r Quinnipiac, which scientifically extrapolate an entire group’s views from a small, carefully selected sample’s responses. In our surveys, respondents select themselves and weigh in because they have something to say. You wouldn’t want to claim that their views reflect a whole population’s thinking, especially with only 22 readers responding. Still, they do have something to say about the current thinking of LA Progressive’s readers.

This week’s survey focuses on the fascinating Occupy Wall Street movement, which has how spawned the OccupyLA offshoot. Take that quick five-question survey here.

Last week, our five questions sought the progressive community’s views on the Obama administration’s and Congress’s performance lately and how that will affect their activities during the 2012 campaign.

President Obama’s Newfound Aggressiveness

saturday surveyPerhaps in response to calls from progressive supporters to take a harder stance with his right-wing foes in Congress — or perhaps because his support is falling in the polls — President Obama has adopted notably harder rhetoric during his nationwide campaign to drum up support for his jobs bill. A near majority (45.5%) feel this will be an effective way to rally support for the Obama re-election campaign. Another 31.8% feel this is a genuine, measured response to right-wing recalcitrance, though 36.4% felt it was a political ploy that would have little last effect. (Survey takers could check as many responses as they chose.)

“Obama’s strength is campaigning, and he’s moving back into campaign mode. His leadership is considerably weaker,” wrote one respondent. “It’s hard to be impressed with his rhetoric, given his performance over the last three years.”

Here’s another perspective:

“Minorities vote with their feet. Without a large minority vote in 2012, Obama will not be reelected. As somebody who threw away his first vote on turning 21 in the 1968 presidential election by voting for comedian Dick Gregory, because he was the only “candidate” who wanted out of Vietnam, I am finding it more and more difficult to hold my nose and vote for Obama as the lesser of two evils. In Germany during the 1930s a similar situation existed where the minority Nazi Party (Tea Party?) was put in power by the industrialists to avoid a Left wing takeover. When the industrialists tried to take power back from the Nazis, they couldn’t.”

Obama and Endless War

On whether President Obama has done enough to end the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the largest group of respondents (45.5%) think the Pentagon and the Military-Industrial Complex are funning the show, overwhelming anything Obama might want to do. Another large group (40.5%) point to the role Republicans have played in blunting Obama’s attempts to move the country toward peace. This response seems to capture the sentiment best:

There is HUGE pressure on all politicians to act macho – whether in disproportionately imprisoning people here at home or in attacking foreign countries. The impetus to reverse George Bush’ claim he was “bringing democracy” to Iraq and Afghanistan is hard to maintain in the face of a military and business interests who are minting money off the wars and have the resources to manipulate public opinion.

The Progressive Worldview Today

Asked about their political outlook today and how that will affect their involvement in the 2012 campaigns, respondents were generally fairly pessimistic, with 40.9% saying that America’s growing economic divide will lead to a major confrontation that will damage both our democracy and the world. No one thought that people are making too much of America’s current economic problems and few (18.2%) thought we could simply limp through to better times.

On the outlook, one responded: “America’s growing economic divide will lead to a major crisis which, depending on its resolution, would either rein in the corporatocracy and help restore democracy or lead to devastating consequences for the country and the world.”

Another said: “In the longer term, this may actually strengthen democracy. But the founding fathers never intended shmucks like me to vote and we have never reached full democracy.”

More optimistically, someone added: “I’m a bred-in-the-bone optimist. I do think we’re heading toward a 60s-style conflagration and a more viable democracy will emerge as a result.”

On supporting the Obama campaign, some were dismissive: “I will not waste my time or money on the presidential race. I will try to force myself to vote. However, I will support left-of-center Democratic challengers for the House and Senate.”

More typical was this:

“Although I am disappointed that President Obama has not fought the progressive fight I would like, and I want him to stand up to Republicans much more and much stronger, we are doomed if a Republican wins and gets to appoint more Supreme Court justices and gets his legislative colleagues to pass more cuts and destroys our government because they don’t believe in it.”

dick and sharonand this:

“We were giddy with Obama’s election and put lots of time into his 2008 election. I bet we’ll end up supporting him again, but I imagine more of our effort will go into issues and other campaigns.”

Clearly, the Obama campaign has its work cut out to recapture the progressive enthusiasm that put him in office in 2008.

Dick Price & Sharon Kyle
Editor & Publisher

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