The Deficit Advantage

Andrew Sullivan —  May 24 2012 @ 7:43pm

Despite the lack of spending explosion under Obama, the GOP will capitalize on deficit hysteria. Steve Kornacki explains why it will work:  

Voters have a demonstrated tendency to express concerns about deficits only when the economy is bad. This is why, for instance, the Democrats during the 1981/82 recession reaped a political windfall while railing against Ronald Reagan’s massive deficits, but gained zero traction on the issue when the economy improved in 1984 – even though deficits were even higher (and still soaring) then. The lesson is that most voters don’t actually care about the deficit itself, or really understand what it is. But it’s a scary-sounding word that conjures thoughts of government bloat and reckless spending, which makes it an irresistible weapon for a recession-era opposition party.