'This Week' Transcript: Axelrod

If there was an opportunity -- if there is an opportunity for Democrats to avoid a true debacle, it is probably in those upper-middle-class suburbs. Two points: There's a sharp gender divide. College-educated white-collar women, white women with college degrees, are open to Obama. They are his strongest group in the white electorate, and they're pretty evenly divided on the election.

College-educated white men are -- tend to be more ideologically suspicious of government, and they could break very sharply toward the Republicans.

The other point, though, is that the Dow is a big indicator of economic health in these kind of white-collar suburbs. And -- and the fall in the Dow, the correction really, I think, has soured some of these voters on the economy.

But what the administration wanted was a narrative that said, look, we have been through the dark valley, things are beginning to turn up, and do you want to go back? Without that predicate, the "do you want to go back" message loses a lot of its sting.

TAPPER: But, George, we are in the middle of something of a recovery, are we not? Does he not have a case to make?

WILL: No, because the general...

MARCUS: You're surprised by that answer?

WILL: ... the general American experience is that the sharper and more abrupt the downturn, the sharper and more abrupt the upturn, the V-shaped recovery. This is looking dangerously like an L-shaped recovery, in terms of what really interests people, which is job-creation.

An -- an economist has made the following analogy that I think Americans understand. If I pay my neighbor $1,000 to dig a hole in my backyard and fill it up again and he pays me $1,000 to dig a hole in his backyard and fill it up again, according to the national income statistics, that's a $2,000 increment to GDP and two jobs have been created. The American people understand, however, there's no real wealth created in this kind of transfer payment.

MARCUS: George makes a really important point about the shape of the recovery, because the reality is that it takes a while for voters to get that the economy is getting better, if it is getting better. And the fact that the economy is where it is now is pretty much where they're going to vote in November. If -- if suddenly the economy started to grow robustly, there just isn't enough time for the perception to catch up with the reality.

TAPPER: Reihan, every single time a Republican member of Congress or even a Republican candidate makes a gaffe, whether it's John Boehner or Joe Barton or Sharron Angle, the White House pounces on it like a piece of meat. Does it have any effect? Is it getting -- is the message getting out there that, hey, if you give the Republicans control of Congress, Joe Barton, who apologized to BP, is going to be head of the Energy Committee? Is that having any resonance at all?

SALAM: I think it does have an effect in a narrow way. The White House has a huge problem with the Democratic base. There are folks who are outside of that core African-American constituency, core liberal constituency who are wondering.

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