Voters still don’t see a link between Bush and 2010

Holly Bailey
The Upshot

Democrats have tried all summer to convince voters that electing Republicans this fall would mean a return to the policies of the George W. Bush presidency. Party committees have run ads on the subject, and President Obama mentions his predecessor on the stump more often than he refers to any other current Republican officeholder. The bad news for Dems: No matter how hard they try to link the 2010 campaign to Bush, voters still aren't buying it — especially when it comes to the No. 1 issue this fall, the economy.

A new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll finds that just 35 percent of those polled believe that if Republicans win control of Congress they will push Bush-era economic policies, whereas 58 percent say Republicans will offer "different ideas." The poll also asks voters to rate the Democrats' argument that the GOP has been the "party of no and ... would take us back to the economic policies of George W. Bush." Forty-five percent called the argument not convincing; 40 percent said it was convincing.

What frustrates Democrats and the White House is that polls show voters continue to blame Bush more than Obama for the nation's troubled economy. The latest ABC/Washington Post poll finds that 60 percent of those polled believe the Bush administration is to blame for the current economic crisis, compared with just 42 percent who blame Obama. Yet Dems haven't been able to take advantage of this disparity in any meaningful way ahead of the midterm elections.

In an interview with the Huffington Post's Sam Stein, Obama senior adviser David Axelrod admits Dems have blown it on messaging. "Perhaps this is where we have been failing to communicate," Axelrod said. "[A] large number of people [don't] believe that a Republican Congress would go back to the policies of George W. Bush, even though their own leaders have said as much in public. ... Our job in the next eight weeks is to make sure that people understand that, that they understand the stakes."

Democrats won't get any help from Bush, who seems to be trying to stay off the radar and out of the campaign. The 43rd president had been scheduled to release"Decision Points," a memoir, in October, but the book's publication date -- which also marks the onset of the author's publicity tour -- has been pushed back until the week after Election Day.

(Photo of Bush by Ron Edmonds/AP)