When President Barack Obama takes the stage at the in Charlotte, NC, Thursday night, he should spend the time focusing more on his next term rather than bashing the Mitt Romney/Paul Ryan ticket.
At least, that’s what Wisconsin’s Democratic political insiders would like to see happen when Obama officially accepts his party’s nomination and enters the home stretch of the 2012 presidential election campaign.
In Patch’s second “Blue Wisconsin” Survey, most respondents said looking toward the future is the way to go during Thursday’s speech.
“Obama needs to focus on the future, on what he wants to do over the next four years,” one respondent wrote. “(Former President Bill) Clinton gave a solid defense of Obama's record,” as the convention’s keynote speaker Wednesday.
"He said this would be a long hard fight, and we are only midway through the fight,” another respondent replied. “We can't stop at halftime.”
On Wednesday, Patch sent surveys to 65 “insiders” — key party activists, elected officials, bloggers, and others who agreed to anonymously give their opinions in a series of surveys through the November election. Thirty-nine people — or 60 percent of those surveyed — responded. The questions centered on Obama’s speech, the convention and the final months of his campaign.
Unlike a scientific poll of voters, which typically surveys hundreds of people, the "Blue Wisconsin" Survey takes the pulse of some of Wisconsin's most influential Democrats.
Stay away from GOP bashing
Some of the respondents hope Obama focuses his speech on his own accomplishments, without going on the defensive, but very few said they’d like to see a Romney-Ryan rip-fest.
“Without blaming Republicans, he can explain the state of challenges he came into, their enormity and complexity, and detail how he addressed each and what progress was made,” one insider wrote. “He can talk about the party as well, including accomplishments of past presidents rather than acting as if they didn’t exist.”
Another insider said in his speech, Obama should “remind America why they trusted him with the keys to the car four years ago. To explain how the economy is on the right track due to his policies. To continue to show how he and the Dems are focused on the middle-class, not the super-rich who are already doing well.”
A majority of the same survey respondents suggested that Obama’s campaign over the final two months also focus on his vision for the second term.
Sixty-one percent said they’d like to see the campaign follow that path into November, while 28 percent said the focus should be his accomplishments of his first four years. Another 8 percent said centering on the negatives of the Romney/Ryan ticket is the way to go.
Respondents were all over the board on a pair of topics, including the question that asked what issue they wished received more attention from their party’s platform. Hot button topics such as health care and job creation were mentioned more than once, as was gun control, but other answers included the importance of unions/labor, the role of faith in people’s lives and marriage equality.
A few respondents felt the Democratic platform does not focus enough on the inequalities among classes:
“The fact that giving millionaires a tax break does not equal a better way of life for the rest of the country.”
“The idea that America was built on the backs of the middle class, not the wealthy few.”
Responses varied when Patch asked respondents to sum up in a word or a phrase what they’d like to see from Obama, with answers ranging from “backbone” to “boldness” to “fire.”
One respondent said he’d like to see the president do more.
“Do more for education. Do more for gay rights. Do more for healthcare. Do more for campaign reform. Do more to repeal Citizens United. Do more to regulate Wall Street. Do more for gun control. Do more.”
Convention important ... for future stars
Eight of every 10 respondents feel this week’s Democratic National Convention in no way is a make-or-break moment for Obama. Eight-two percent feel his status among voters is not riding on Thursday’s speech or the days leading up to his appearance. Nearly 18 percent of respondents, however, believe how the convention plays out is a deal breaker.
The convention also revealed a few rising party stars to the state’s political insiders. Twenty-one chose San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro as the speaker at the convention who became a household name this week.
A potential roadblock for what could be Castro’s fast-moving political career is that Texas voters have not elected a Democratic governor or senator since 1990. But on Tuesday, Castro jabbed at Romney’s wealth and the Governor’s shifting of positions on issues like abortion and gay marriage, while associating his own political rise after being raised by a single mother and a grandmother, both Mexican immigrants:
"My family's story isn't special. What's special is the America that makes our story possible. Ours is a nation like no other, a place where great journeys can be made in a single generation. No matter who you are or where you come from, the path is always forward."
Five people chose Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick as an up-and-comer at the convention, and four chose both Wisconsin U.S. Senate candidate Tammy Baldwin and Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren. One respondent expressed hope that Warren run for president in 2016.
Patch will be conducting Red Wisconsin and Blue Wisconsin surveys throughout 2012 in hopes of determining the true sentiment of active members of both parties in the Badger State.
If you are an activist, party leader or elected official of either party, and would like to take part in a survey that lasts just a few minutes, please email Regional Editor Mark Maley at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Patch's Blue Wisconsin Survey participants are:
Kelley Albrecht, candidate for 63rd State Assembly District; Mandela Barnes, candidate for 11th State Assembly District; Ron Biendseil, vice chair for membership, Dane County Democratic Party; Tammy Bockhorst, membership secretary/membership chair, Milwaukee County Democratic Party; Randy Bryce, candidate for 62nd State Assembly District; Brian Carlson, liberal blogger; Sachin Chheda, chair, Milwaukee County Democratic Party; Jeff Christensen, chair, 5th Congressional District Democrats; Mark Conforti, chief negotiator for the Fox Point-Bayside Teachers Association; Rick Congdon, former judge and former chair, Democratic Party of Waukesha County; Deb Dassow, progressive and labor activist, and semi-retired educator; Victor Drover, liberal blogger; Dale Dulberger, party activist; Perry Duman, candidate for the 60th State Assembly District; Brett Eckstein, Democratic attorney; Waring R. Fincke, vice chair, Washington County Democratic Party; Stephanie Findley, chair, 4th Congressional District Democrats; Heather Geyer, liberal columnist; Ginny Goode, Grassroots North Shore; Darcy Gustavsson, party activist; Kristin Hansen, neighborhood team leader, Obama for America and co-host, Drinking Liberally Waukesha; Robert Hansen, co-chair of Progressive Democrats of America in Milwaukee County; John Heckenlively, secretary, 1st Congressional District Democrats; Kelly Herda, treasurer, Democratic Party of Wisconsin Women's Caucus and political consultant; Robert Heule, Region 5 Chair, Democratic Party of Milwaukee County; Peter Knudsen, legislative aide and longtime Democratic staffer; Marga Krumins, candidate for 97th State Assembly District and associate chair Democratic Party of Wisconsin Women’s Caucus; Bill Kurtz, candidate for 21st Assembly District; John Lehman, state senator, 21st District; Matthew Lowe, youth outreach director, Waukesha County Democratic Party; Fran Martin, election observer for the Democratic Party and appeared in Wangaard recall ads; Tom Michalski, Oak Creek alderman; Bridget Moen, chair, Democratic Party of Ozaukee County; Meg Moen, treasure, Democratic Party of Ozaukee County; Rick Moze, party activist; Lisa Mux liberal blogger, and co-founder and co-host of Drinking Liberally Waukesha; Thad Nation, political consultant and former aide to Gov. Jim Doyle; Larry Nelson, former Waukesha mayor, current County Board supervisor and delegate to Democratic National Convention; Jason Patzfahl, liberal blogger and founding member of the Progressive 28th Political Action Committee; Jeffrey Perzan , attorney and party activist; Colin Plese, Shorewood School Board member; John Pokrandt, candidate for 13th State Assembly District; Steven Potter, communications aide, state Democratic Party; Jason Rae, Democratic National Committee member; Aaron Robertson, party activist; Chris Rockwood, candidate for 14th State Assembly District; Kristopher Rowe, party activist; Keith Schmitz, member, State Democratic Platform Committee and founding member, Grassroots North Shore; Richard Schwalb, party activist; Erin Sievert, chairwoman, Jefferson County Democrats; Kathleen Slamka, party activist; Mike Tate, chair , Democratic Party of Wisconsin; Melissa Ugland, business owner and party activist; Sarah Wagner, community activist for Wisconsin Jobs Now; Jamie Wall, candidate for 8th Congressional District; Jim Ward, candidate, 28th State Senate District; Jane Witt, chair of Racine County Democrats; and Graeme Zielinski, communications director, Wisconsin Democratic Party.