If you want to know why Americans are frustrated and fed up with Washington, I present exhibit A: the debate between Democrats and Republicans over Osama Bin Laden.
Democrats suggest that Mitt Romney may not have had the guts to take out the Al Qaeda leader while Republicans sniff that the President’s public preening over the successful operation is unseemly.
Americans, meanwhile, have been very clear that they want the candidates to fix the economy, not one-up each other on their anti-terrorism credentials.
In January of 2012, 51 percent of Americans polled by ABC/Washington Post said that the economy was the single most important issue in their choice for President. A paltry 2 percent picked the issue of terrorism/national security.
Eight years ago, in the first presidential campaign after the 9/11 attacks, 22 percent of Americans said terrorism was their top concern. And, while the economy was important to their vote, just 26 percent said it was their top issue in the 2004 campaign.
Today, it is the GDP, not OBL that is driving this election.
And, many Americans feel that Washington doesn’t understand or appreciate just how tough this economy has been on them.
Nowhere is this frustration more evident than among a group of 29 moms brought together by Walmart for an online discussion about the economy and the upcoming election.
These “Walmart moms” – defined as a voter with kids under 18 living at home who shops at Walmart at least once a month – are a sought-after demographic. Even more important, the women engaged in this online discussion were from the key battleground states of Florida, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia. The discussion was moderated by Public Opinion Strategies, a Republican polling firm, and Momentum Analysis, a Democratic firm. What they found was that these women are hurting financially. Almost every one of them had a story about how she and her family had to cut back, go without, or sacrifice.
When asked to pick their most important issue, all picked the economy or “domestic issues”. Not one picked “foreign policy issues like Iraq, Afghanistan or the war on terrorism.”
Moreover, these women expressed a deep frustration with the disconnect between what they experience in their day-to-day lives and what they see going on in Washington
“I do not think elected officials and running candidates understand my life and what matters most to me,” said Jamie from Pennsylvania. “They make too much money to understand what it is like to live paycheck to paycheck and for someone to be on disability. All they care about is their personal agendas.”
In a memo outlining the findings, Alex Bratty of Public Opinion Strategies and Margie Omero of Momentum Analysis write: “Walmart Moms are frustrated with the state of the country, but they are skeptical about Washington’s ability to address the key issues that will have a positive, tangible impact on their household. These moms do not feel well represented. They see their elected officials and candidates running for office – whether for President or Member of Congress – as being elitist, out‐of‐touch and often focused on the wrong issues: arguing about social issues when they should be discussing ways to improve the economy, reduce gas prices and get the country back on track.”
So, while Democrats and Republicans bicker over the death of a terrorist leader killed over a year ago, these Walmart moms, and many just like them, are probably tuning them out.