Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Obama vs. Romney on 'Fiscal Cliff': May the Bolder Man Win, Polls Say (+Video)

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Obama vs. Romney on 'Fiscal Cliff': May the Bolder Man Win, Polls Say (+Video)

Article excerpt

The key to winning the White House may run through the issue too fearsome for Washington to tackle: the looming fiscal cliff.

Polling and analysis released Monday by the left (Democratic pollsters Greenberg Quinlan Rosner), right (Republican pollsters Resurgent Republic) and center (Center Forward, a moderate Democratic group) tells a tale of an American public thoroughly upset with Washingtons handling of the weighty fiscal issues set to slam the economy come Jan. 1. But if voters arent totally versed on the specifics of the fiscal cliff, theyre willing to throw their political support behind the presidential candidate who provides a bolder, more compelling vision for how to deal with the nations future.

The Center Forward poll, conducted by the bipartisan public affairs group Purple Strategies, found that slightly more than half of voters (and more than 6 in 10 in swing states) are concerned about the fiscal cliff.

The cliff is Washington shorthand for some $600 billion in higher taxes and lower government spending that will set in after the first of the year and that government economists believe could be enough to push the American economy back into a recession.

The poll, which surveyed 1,000 likely voters and had an overall margin of error of 3.1 percent, found that voters were even more unanimous on two fronts. First, nearly 8 in 10 disapproved of how Congress has handled the fiscal cliff thus far.

But second, almost 3 in 4 voters say the two presidential campaigns have done too little to inform them of their plans for dealing with the cliff. (Voters arent getting any more help on the congressional level, with 82 percent saying they arent getting sufficient info on the fiscal cliff from their candidates for Congress.)

If candidates arent going to talk about it, either in their debates or in their advertising, its hard to bring the American people to know a lot about what the fiscal problems are confronting the country, said Steve Bell, senior director of economic policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center, at a press briefing on Monday.

But the candidate that does address the issues could reap large political rewards, say Democratic pollsters Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, in a research memo.

Part of Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romneys post-debate polling bounce wasn't about his rhetorical style it was about his willingness to talk decisively about the nations economic future, the pollsters write.

Mitt Romney is strongest when he uses future-oriented economic messages to talk about the policy choices, they say, noting that 3 in 4 voters agree with Romneys five-point economic plan of job creation, energy independence, improved education, and lower deficits and taxes.

This message also has strong intensity of support half (50 percent) of voters strongly agree with this message. …

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