Obama’s Secret Plan for Socialism?

By Jacqueline Klingebiel

Oct 16, 2009 3:55pm

Does President Obama have a “secret” plan for socialism? That’s what conservatives said during a recent set of focus groups in Atlanta. What they did not say was also interesting.  Even when pushed, no hint of racial prejudice was raised. ABC News' Teddy Davis has more on the new report from the liberal Democracy Corps group, including what its leaders think it might mean for 2012: Former Clinton advisers James Carville and Stan Greenberg released a focus group study on Friday arguing that the Republican Party will have trouble connecting with independent swing voters in upcoming elections because the conservatives who make up two-thirds of the GOP stand  “a world apart from the rest of America.” “What’s really striking is the powerful sense of self-identity, the sense of being mocked in the country plus a special sense of knowledge as they try to stop this president who they believe has a secret agenda, a socialist agenda, that will undermine the Constitution and our liberties,” said Greenberg. “What’s striking is that it’s just not present for the independents, the Macomb-type swing voter,” he added, referring to the Michigan county where Greenberg first went in 1985 to study “Reagan Democrats” and their flight from the Democratic Party. The focus group study, which was paid for by Democracy Corps, a liberal group started by Carville and Greenberg, was conducted last month among conservative Republican base voters in suburban Atlanta, with parallel groups conducted among blue collar independents in suburban Cleveland. The conservative focus group set in Atlanta was made up of those that voted for both John McCain and a GOP candidate for Congress. The moderate focus group set in Cleveland was divided 50-50 between 2008 Obama voters and 2008 McCain voters. Conducted on the heels of Rep. Joe Wilson’s, R-S.C., “you lie” comments, Democracy Corps gave the conservative focus group set in Atlanta, which was made up of older, white Republican base voters, a full opportunity to bring race into their discussion. Race, however, did not ever become a central element of the discussion. Rather than expressing a racial animus, the conservative group spoke out against Obama on ideological grounds and fear that he represents a “secret” socialist agenda. “First and foremost, these conservative Republican voters believe Obama is deliberately and ruthlessly advancing a ‘secret agenda’ to bankrupt our country and dramatically expand government control over all aspects of our daily lives,” reads the Democracy Corps report. In particular, conservatives cited the bank bailouts, the takeovers of Chrysler and GM, homeowner dependence on the government to stay out of foreclosure, and the proposed health-care overhaul. Although the conservatives in the study fully embraced the “socialism” attacks on Obama, the moderate focus group set largely dismissed these attacks as “the kind of overblown partisan rhetoric that obscures the facts and only serves to cheapen the political discourse.” So what does all this mean for the GOP’s 2012 presidential nod? Democracy Corps suggested that it might hurt Mitt Romney and boost Sarah Palin. “Romney has an authenticity problem” with conservatives, said Greenberg. “Their filter is: Who is real? Who is really with them?” Although Romney successfully expanded health-care coverage in Massachusetts without a government insurance option, Greenberg thinks the former governor will be hurt among conservatives for backing a plan that could “be very similar to what passes nationally.” Palin, by contrast, might actually be helped in a potential bid for the GOP’s 2012 presidential nomination by the intensely anti-socialist worldview which appears to be ascendant among conservatives. Even though 50 percent of voters view Palin unfavorably according to a Gallup poll released earlier today, Palin appealed to the conservatives who took part in the Democracy Corps focus group set. Conservatives viewed Palin as a “victim of an unprecedented smear campaign” by the “liberal media,” according to the report. “Palin was the only one that generated a lot of conversation and enthusiasm,” Karl Agne, a senior adviser to Democracy Corps, told ABC News. Even though Palin was the only Republican figure who “truly excited” the conservative focus group set and created “real passion,” she has major problems with swing voters, according to the portion of the Democracy Corps report which deals with independents. “When it comes to Sarah Palin, there was almost universal agreement that she could never be elected president, with most citing her inexperience and baggage as obstacles too great to overcome,” reads the report. “But even more important to them, most felt she was ultimately driven by greed and ambition more than anything else and would rather use her newfound fame to enrich herself than improve the country.” 

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