Iowa Democrats confident of Obama's re-election chancesby Mark Zdechlik, Minnesota Public Radio
Cedar Falls, Iowa — If you listen to the Republican candidates, it's a forgone conclusion that President Barack Obama will be a one-term president with a legacy of miserably failing the country.
GOP hopefuls, among them former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, have been attacking Obama for his handling of the economy and foreign policy. They're focusing their message on states like Iowa, which will play an important role in the battle for the Republican nomination.
Among Iowa Republicans, the talking points have been well received. But that state's Democrats have a different view of the Republican rhetoric in their backyard. Anyone who has any doubt need only visit summer celebrations like the one held June 25 in Cedar Falls.
The big parade down Main Street was all about civic pride. A marching band and a drum corps showed off their steps. Church and youth organizations and businesses take took part. So did the local Democratic and Republican parties.
The Black Hawk County Democrats had a modest float carrying several senior citizens, followed by four kids holding placards spelling out "Obama." As they passed by, Steve Murra of Cedar Falls yelled, "four more years!"
"He's going to win," Murra said of Obama. "The Republicans don't have anyone to run against him."
Farther down the parade route, Marcy Seible of Waterloo welcomed the Democrats by enthusiastically clapping her hands.
"I'm a Democrat, and I'm very proud of the things the Democrats do," she said.
Seible said she tunes out Republican criticism of Obama.
"I don't think he's a failed president," she said. "He's only had a few years in office so far, and it takes more than one term to really make a significant difference."
On the float, Black Hawk County Democrats chairwoman Pat Sass confidently predicted Obama will be re-elected, and she dismisses any talk to the contrary.
"You have to take into consideration who's saying that," Sass said. "That's all coming from Republicans."
In 2008, Obama won Iowa by nearly 10 percentage points over the Republican nominee, Sen. John McCain of Arizona. Des Moines Register pollster Ann Selzer said when Obama took office in early 2009, a whopping 68 percent of Iowans approved of him.
As of February of this year, the most recent time the Iowa poll clocked Obama's approval rating, it had plunged 20 points to 48 percent.
"I think you will find people who are certainly disillusioned," Selzer said. "You have to remember that the Bush administration was very unpopular at the end of their term. So really, anybody coming in would be expected to shore up the electorate and sort of buoy the national mood, and the economy has worked against that."
Bush's approval rating in Iowa when he left office in 2009 was just 32 percent.
Iowa Democratic Party Chairwoman Sue Dvorsky said the Republicans vying for the chance to take on Obama next year are proposing a return to Bush-era policies, which she blames for the nation's economic problems. She said Americans in Iowa and elsewhere don't want to go back.
"I think a lot of this is noise," Dvorsky said. "When the country really is faced with the actual reality of Barack Obama, his record of achievement and his vision for moving forward, and candidate "X" and his or her plan for moving forward, then that's where the conversation will be."
Black Hawk County Democrats Treasurer Roger White, who's been involved in Democratic politics since the early 1970s, is more measured in his prediction of how Obama will fare against whichever Republican ends up on the ticket.
"I think it's probably a toss-up," he said. "It's not a sure thing either way."
White acknowledges frustration with Obama, particularly over his continued use of the U.S. military in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. Still, White remains solidly behind Obama and credits his administration for turning around the economy.
White derided GOP assessments that the president's efforts to restore the U.S. economy have failed.
"The policies of the Obama administration kept the Hoover Depression from happening again, only this time it would have been the George Bush recession," White said. "So all of that is just rhetoric on the part of Republicans. They think if they tell the lie enough times, the people will believe it."
- All Things Considered, 07/06/2011, 5:50 p.m.