Stephan Shakespeare: If voters see America growing strongly again, it could undermine the Coalition's austerity plan
Today is "Super Tuesday", when ten primaries occur at once. This is actually fewer than it used to be and this time it is unlikely to deliver a knock-out punch (for plenty of data on this see the Economist/YouGov polling on our American site). Four quick points:
1) Although support for Santorum is weakening, the profile of that support is interesting for what it says about motivation. Santorum is seen (by those likely to vote in Republican primaries) as considerably more clear, decisive and conservative than Mitt Romney. But in spite of being rated more positively on general attributes, Santorum loses head-to-head versus Romney as the best nominee. This is because he is trailing on the attribute most important to Republicans: likelihood of beating Obama. But in fact, when Romney and Santorum are polled head-to-head against him, they trail by the same amount.
2) It is interesting that the leading GOP candidates trail Obama about equally among the general public given that Americans reject Santorum's social conservatism. For example only 7% of the public (and 9% of those likely to vote in the Republican primaries) agree with Santorum that birth control is morally wrong. Perhaps agreement on values is not so important after all, or else the values of clarity and consistency counter-balance disagreement on moral issues.
'Perceived' is they key word there, of course. Although it is a fact that US unemployment has fallen significantly in the past six months, 51% against 31% of Republican voters say it hasn't. Although it is a fact that unemployment has risen since Obama became President, 62% against 26% of Democrat voters say it has fallen.
4) A final thought: if British voters see America growing strongly again, and if this is attributed to Obama's policy of fiscal stimulus, it could undermine the coalition's emphasis on continued austerity.