Yes, Virginia, Polls Do Matter!

January 25th, 2011

President Obama is rebounding post-November shellacking.  He has 53 percent job approval rating, and 40 percent of Americans see him as a moderate.  Still, the number that likely makes Obama cringe is unemployment, which remains stubbornly high at 9.4%.  So it should be no surprise that 4 in 10 Americans say jobs should be the top concern for the new Congress.  Thus, the first policy issue that Speaker John Boehner and the House Republicans bring to the new session of Congress is … repealing health care?

The Republicans certainly know Obama and the Democrat-controlled Senate will not go along with this symbolic repeal.  So what is Boehner’s goal PR goal?  And equally important, what messages are the Republicans sending strategically and tactically?

Regardless of one’s opinion on this issue, one thing that is painfully clear: the conversation has come and gone.  Only 18 percent of Americans believe health care reform should be repealed.  And, repeating the mantra that health care reform “kills” jobs doesn’t mean that the new legislation actually does.

Whether it’s politics or a product, PR messaging must account for market forces and public attitudes.  Health care probably isn’t the best way for Republicans to continue leveraging voter discontent to their favor, and in this instance the issue likely won’t advance their cause(s) politically.

We’ll explore this theme of misguided PR tactics further in our next post, which will criticize the White House’s new PR attack on “dumb” laws and regulations.

Grade: C+.  Points go for aggressive tactics, but the substance should focus more on what polls show as top policy and PR priorities.

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