In Iowa, Disappointment with Obama Runs Deep

These are not the articles President Obama wants to read:

In Iowa, a rural state of outsized political importance, retired nurse Pauline McAreavy is among thousands eager to vote against President Barack Obama after four years of disappointment. McAreavy holds a personal grudge against the president that dates back to 2008, when she hosted Obama’s supporters for three weeks in the Midwestern state that nurtured his improbable White House dreams. She never got a thank you note for her small role in helping land Obama in the White House, but McAreavy’s antagonism goes deeper, the product of broken promises and accumulated disillusion with the “hope” promised by the man who has billed himself an “adopted son” of Iowa. “Obama gave us this ‘no red, no blue state’ America,” said McAreavy, 78. “I was fooled, I kick myself everyday,” she said. “I said: ‘In four years I’ll get you buddy — and I’m going to.'”

Breaking up with Obama

McAreavy is among many voters in midwestern Iowa — which kicks off the presidential nominating contests every four years — who have abandoned their allegiance to Obama’s platform. Their lack of support, revealed in two dozen interviews with Iowa County residents, is at the heart of the president’s challenge in seeking a second term in what has become a very tightly contested White House race. Sweeping in front of her house in Williamsburg, McAreavy recalled how she had thought Obama would bring a politically divided country together and that electing the first African American president of the United States would be “wonderful” for this country. “He didn’t, he tore us more apart. I did feel maybe the world didn’t like America, but the world hates us more now than they did before!” she said.

One way street with 2008 voters

Many voters who chose Obama last time around are quick to vent frustration over the discrepancy between what they had hoped from a historic Obama presidency and what actually transpired. Almost no McCain voters, meanwhile, seem ready to cast a ballot for the Democrat. Even if Obama wins the state of Iowa and the entire election this year, the victory will be narrow and will lack the sweet taste of 2008. Back then, Obama got 54 percent of vote in Iowa against 44 percent for McCain. But in this race, no poll gives him more than 51 percent, and Romney is only two points behind, on average.

Despondent Democrats

[T]he president’s supporters — and there are still legions of them — are gloomy. Many cite Republican control of the House of Representatives and its sizeable contingent in the Senate as extenuating circumstances. All search for excuses. “Every election it’s the lesser of two evils,” said Williamsburg librarian Carol Uhlmann, a 72-year-old registered Democrat…Inside the Williamsburg Public Library, a woman playing with a young girl has already decided not to vote for Obama, like she did four years ago. “I’m going to go with the change,” said the woman, who would only give her first name Ann.

Embracing Romney

[D]isenchantment with Obama is not the only factor explaining Romney’s impressive climb up the polls, as the Republican steadily builds his base of support while softening his public image. Romney was not the first choice for Sarah, an 89-year-old Lutheran, because he is of Mormon faith. But she has grown accustomed to the him thanks to repeated campaign appearances that are a tradition in Iowa, which likes to see its candidates up close, shake their hands and look them in the eyes. Sarah said she became especially comfortable after seeing Romney’s large family — he has five sons — on television. And she is far from being alone. National polls by the Washington, DC-based Pew Center show that Romney’s favorability ratings jumped from just 37 percent in July to 50 percent in October.

Youth vote

Even young people, among Obama’s most ardent supporters in 2008, appear disillusioned. Sam Tracy, who delivers beer in Marengo, said he plans to abstain from voting, disgusted by the political impasse in Washington. In 2008, the registered Independent proudly cast a vote for Obama in an election that made the history books. “Based on what we were coming from, there was a lot of enthusiasm for Obama, but now that he’s in office, the shine has worn off,” Tracy said.


  1. Blackcloud
    Posted October 27, 2012 at 10:04 am | Permalink | Reply

    Word of caution, of course, is that disappointment won’t translate uniformly into votes for Romney. Some folks will swallow their disappointment and stick with Obama, some will simply stay home, and some will switch. Romney needs B and C to be greater than A. Best of all would be C being the largest category by a substantial margin, since those are actual votes.

    • fab4gal
      Posted October 27, 2012 at 4:07 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I agree that most Democrats will not switch to Romney. Heck I’m a registered Republican and no matter how bad the numbers looked for my guy, you’d have to put a gun to my head to vote for a Democrat. So I get that. But I think a lot of them will simply stay home. Democrats are already lazy about voting, so add to that their disappointment in The Anointed One, then add on top of that the fact that all the numbers have Romney winning….result, I see a lot of Democrats just saying “oh screw it, why bother.”

  2. Eric
    Posted October 27, 2012 at 10:32 am | Permalink | Reply

    Romney now up 4% in the Rasmussen tracking poll despite a Friday night sample coming on. Fridays and Saturdays are usually the worst polling days for Republicans since they aren’t home much those nights.

    Swing state poll has Romney up 6.

    • Dave Ped
      Posted October 27, 2012 at 11:12 am | Permalink | Reply

      Swing state poll for Rasmussen is R 51% to O 45% which represents 11 swing states. I think Rasmussen is still using a D+3 turnout too! I saw that Gallup confirmed that this election will be more Republican than 2004 like R+3. I am thinking Romney may end up winning this thing by 10 points!

  3. John
    Posted October 27, 2012 at 10:46 am | Permalink | Reply

    We live in the 2nd congressional district of Nebraska (Omaha metro region) and have been polled by telephone 4 times in the past week (two verbal and two push-button). We had not been polled at all prior to this and it seems strange until you consider that Nebraska allocates is EVs by congressional district (as does Maine) and Obama won NE2 in 2008. I can only think of three reasons for this surge of polling:

    1) The O team is seriously considering the possiblity of an EV tie in which case winning the single EV from NE2 would give them to a 270-278 win. Nebraska’s remaining 4 EVs are a lock for R-R. EV tie scenarios are provided here: but only scenario 18 seems like it would be possible (Romney wins FL, NC, VA, CO, NV, IA while Obama wins PA, OH, MI, WI, NH).

    2) The Bob Kerry (D) – Deb Fischer (R) senate race is getting tighter and they want to know by how much. Fischer has been ahead by double digits for months but indications are this gap is closing.

    3) We are extremely unlucky and are getting more than our share of national polling calls.

    Regarding (1), fortunately NE2 was realigned after the census and is slightly more republican than 2008. I really can’t see O winning NE2.

    • John
      Posted October 27, 2012 at 10:48 am | Permalink | Reply

      Obviously I meant a 270-268 win in scenario (1) above.

    • Loach
      Posted October 27, 2012 at 12:51 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I also live in NE02 and have only been polled once in the last 2 weeks. Of course, that doesn’t include all the phone calls I’ve ignored because they come up as “unavailable” on the Caller ID. Most of those calls are political fundraising calls from Republican organizations that want to beg me for more money because I have been quite generous with donations this cycle. I don’t take those calls because I make all contribution decisions independently and would never decide to give based on a phone call. So I suppose some of those calls could also have been pollsters. Pollsters who identify themselves on caller ID, such as Magellan and Rasmussen, will get through to me. Others will not.

      As for NE02, highly doubtful that he would win it this year. He actively contested it in ’08, but has really not lifted a finger to do so this cycle outside of opening one token campaign office. Sure, he will get the black vote in North Omaha, but he’ll be swamped in the rest of the district. I live in southwest Omaha and drive through many middle to upper class neighborhoods that were dotted with Obama signs in ’08. I have not seen a single sign for him this cycle. Nebraskans are ticked about Obamacare and the Cornhusker kickback. Obama has no chance IMO. But if he does, then this blog will have been pretty much moot – because if O wins NE02 then he will have also swept the swing states save for maybe FL and VA. NE02 will not decide this election (unless it’s Romney’s 269th or 270th EV).

      And by the way, this is my first post, so I just want to thank Keith for such a great blog. I just found it about a week ago and it’s quickly become my favorite site this cycle.

  4. lutheranguy
    Posted October 27, 2012 at 1:34 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I live 15 minutes from Williamsburg where this story took place, and it fits my read: Obama voters disappointed and apathetic, Republicans motivated and determined. Not many signs up for either one, but those that are up are R-R. Iowa County was 50-50 in 04 and 08; I’m confident it’ll go R this time.

  5. Mike
    Posted October 27, 2012 at 4:57 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Keith, this is troublesome…………….

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