'This Week' Transcript: Axelrod

In '94, when the Republicans took the House and the Senate, 82 percent of the voters who approved of Bill Clinton voted for the Democrats; 83 percent of those who disapproved voted for the Republicans. There is that strong tendency.

And when I was out talking to voters, it was clear that it is Obama who was front and center, not the Republicans, and what he is facing is an opposition that is more energized and ardent than his supporters.

And doubts even among some of those -- I thought the thing that was most striking to me, in talking to voters, was even those who felt that the TARP was necessary, that it prevented us from falling off the cliff into another depression were still enormously offended by the idea of bankers getting this kind of assistance without paying a more direct consequence.

TAPPER: Reihan, are we facing a wave here? Are Republicans going to take over the House and maybe even the Senate, do you think?

SALAM: I think we are, but I also think it's kind of a gimmie. Republicans aren't performing nearly as well as they ought to be. Consider the folks who've been hit hardest by the recession. It's younger voters. It's African-Americans. And these are constituencies that are not giving Republicans a second look.

But another thing is, there was a tremendous vulnerability among those college-educated, upper-middle-class white voters who turned to Obama in droves. And there was some indication that maybe they were tilting towards the Republicans, and they're not in big numbers.

And that is the real opportunity, because those working-class, blue-collar whites that Ron writes about, they have tilted Republican for a long time. The real opportunity was in those big-city suburbs, and they don't seem to be moving as quickly as they ought to be for Republicans to have a real lasting, effective impact, the kind of thing that would tell you that in 2012 they might have a real shot at taking back the White House. So I think that it's a problem.

TAPPER: Ruth, does -- we'll get to you in a second, Ron -- Ruth, what's your take? Is the president doing the right thing here? Is this -- is this the effective message to help at least lower the losses in November?

MARCUS: Well, that presumes there's any effective message. And the president says, look, these guys drove the car into the ditch. Why would you give the keys back to them? The only problem with that is, who's been driving the car for the last 18 months and where are we?

And I agree with George in the sense that I don't think this message is going to -- it may tamp things down and make people think a little bit, but the reality is, one side is energized, the other side isn't energized.

I disagree that it's snake oil. I actually think the administration -- I wouldn't stand by every single thing they've done, but they did what they could do to get the economy back on track. It just hasn't happened quickly enough, and they are paying the inevitable price for that.

TAPPER: Ron?

BROWNSTEIN: They have a case to make on that front, but I think the challenge they have -- Reihan, I think, was -- was alluding to it. Blue-collar America is really hurting, and it had been trending Republican even before this downturn. It is very hard to imagine any of that turning around between now and November.

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