What are Americans interested in? According to a Gallup poll released on June 14, it's the economy, in a variety of forms.
The poll found that "68 percent of Americans mention some aspect of the economy when asked about the most important problem facing the country today, with the economy in general (31 percent) and unemployment (25 percent) most often mentioned as specific concerns." (Poll of 1,004 adults, conducted June 7-10, with a sampling error of plus-or-minus 4 points.)
In addition, "the economy and unemployment have ranked first and second on the most important problem list each month since December 2009," according to Gallup. However, Americans' concern about government and government's performance does not end with the economy.
"After those two issues, Americans' next-biggest concerns are dissatisfaction with government, mentioned by 12 percent, and the federal budget deficit, mentioned by 11 percent," noted Gallup.
Given Americans' concern with the economy and unemployment, it would make sense that we should grade the current administration on its performance in these areas so far.
But President Barack Obama appears to have no interest in looking back to review his record. Instead, he began campaigning with the tagline "Forward" this spring.
Based on the administration's reluctance to dwell on its record, here's my prediction: During the next few months, the administration will highlight everything -- but the economy. At least the current state of the economy, and the administration's performance so far. Think of it as a strategy of distraction. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's campaign should react to it as such, and maintain that it's still the economy. Because it is.
The administration might try to change the focus to social issues, health care, education, welfare, class warfare, what we need to do to restart the economy, who else the government should be helping in this economy. Its leaders will attempt to focus on anything but the current state of affairs based on Obama's performance in the areas that Americans most care about.
Why will they focus on other items? Because of their dismal performance so far.
When Obama took office, the unemployment rate was 7.8 percent. It is now 8.4 percent. For African-Americans, who gave Obama 95 percent of their vote in 2008, the unemployment rate has risen from 12.7 percent in January 2009 to 14.7 percent in June, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Romney delivered a speech this week at the NAACP convention in an effort to reach out to these voters, most of whom supported Obama, but who should not be pleased with his administration's performance regarding the economy so far. It will be interesting to see if policy and programs that work will appeal to those who have been left behind by this administration.
In addition to a rise in unemployment, our national debt has also risen during this administration. In January 2008, according to the U.S. Treasury, the government debt was $10.7 trillion. This roughly equated to $35,000 for every man, woman and child in the United States. This week, the debt reached $15.9 trillion. If we were to divide our public debt by the number of men, women and children in our country, each person would owe more than $50,000 today.
We are more in debt, and we have more people who are unemployed today, than when Obama took the oath of office. This is not an administration that can run based on its performance.
Can you image the advertisements? "More in debt, more unemployed -- let's keep up the bad results!"
Instead, the campaign is putting first lady Michelle Obama out front. This week in Orlando, at the University of Central Florida, she told the audience: "You can still build a decent life for yourself and a better life for your kids. That is the American Dream that we are working for."
While her words might have resonated with many, as they do with me, the facts do not line up with her words.
More unemployment, more debt and more government does not lead to a better life for Americans.
Obama will attempt to run on anything but his record. He has to if he wants to win. So look forward to a campaign of distraction and division. The question is: Will we let him get away with it, or will we hold him to his record?