Obama Nation’ cracks fuel GOP Congress win
by RUSS STEWART
Blessed are those who expect nothing, for they shall not be disappointed.
That aptly describes the Obama Administration. Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign, which featured the slogan "Change we need," gave rise to great expectations, and it has culminated in great disappointment.
What political pundits then hailed as the dawning of the "Obama Nation," a seamless alliance of blacks, Hispanics, liberals, urbanites, suburbanites, young Millennials, gays and the intellectual elite has, after only 6 years, evaporated, and should the president insist on resisting the voters’ anti-Obama mandate of Nov. 4, he will ensure Hillary Clinton’s defeat for the presidency in 2016.
For years, political pundits also have hailed as inevitable a Clinton presidency following the Obama presidency. After all, if one unites all those vociferously pro-Obama black voters with all those impatient Baby Boomer women of Hillary’s generation, how can the Republicans win? The answer: They can.
The November results clearly demonstrate that the Obama Nation is not cohesive or enduring, that the black component stampeded to the polls to elect a black president but won’t do likewise for Clinton or other white Democrats who won’t defend Obama, and that those born after 1985 who are transfixed with their social media and their iPods and iPads voted for Obama because they thought he was "cool." They have reconsidered. Many cannot find well paid jobs to pay off their student loans, and they definitely don’t view Hillary Clinton as "cool."
The Democrats made many strategic mistakes in the recent campaign, based on false assumptions. As a result, they encountered a debacle of mammoth proportions.
First, the Democrats, especially in U.S. Senate and U.S. House contests, tried to de-nationalize the contest. They didn’t want to make the election a referendum on the Obama record. Their polling showed Obama with an "approval" score of 41 to 45 percent, and in some southern states he was under 40 percent.
To win Senate seats in Arkansas, Louisiana, North Carolina, Georgia, Kentucky, South Dakota, Colorado, Montana and Alaska, and to pick up U.S. House seats, the Democrats had to, as they say, "change the narrative." They had to make the contests a choice, not a referendum on Obama. That meant portraying southern candidates as good old boys or girls, highlighting their "roots" in the state, demonizing the Republicans as anti-social security, anti-education "extremists," and blaring the Republicans’ alleged "war on women" in television ads.
To win, the Democrats convinced themselves that getting out the vote was the magic wand. Just register more voters who were non-white, non-old, non-heterosexual, non-religious and non-rural, and how could they lose? They did. If an African American didn’t register to vote in 2008 or 2012, why would they register now to support a white Democrat who’s mum on his support of Obama? The Kentucky Democratic U.S. Senate nominee, Alison Lundergan Grimes, in refused to say whether she voted for Obama. That really drove black turnout in Louisville right through the floor. She lost to Mitch McConnell by 222,000 votes. By de-nationalizing Senate races, the Democrats gave pro-Obama voters no incentive to turn out, and they didn’t.
In Kentucky, Obama got 679,370 votes (38 percent of the total cast) in 2012, and the 2014 Democratic Senate candidate got 584,625 votes (41 percent), a decline of 95,000 votes. In Texas, where Obama got 3,308,124 votes, the Democrats’ candidate for governor, Wendy Davis, who made abortion rights and tougher rape prosecution her top issues, got 1,832,254 votes, almost 1.5 million fewer than Obama. Davis lost by 957,373 votes, barely carrying half the anemic Hispanic turnout and getting less that 20 percent of the white male vote.
The list goes on. The Obama vote, measured between 2012 and the top statewide Democrat in 2014, was down by 500,000 in Wisconsin, 1.8 million in Ohio, 800,000 in North Carolina, 600,000 in Georgia, 900,000 in Virginia, 330,000 in Iowa, 1.4 million in Florida, 450,000 in Colorado, and — get this — 920,000 in dripping-blue Massachusetts. The vast bulk of these Obama absentees were blacks and Millennials.
Second, that great strategist, Nancy Pelosi, made sure that everyone knew that House Democrats would battle to the death to defeat the Republicans’ "war on women." Her mantra was "When Women Succeed, America Succeeds." That message clearly telegraphs to non-college-educated men that they’re worth squat, that their struggles and economic plight are irrelevant, and that, at least in the Democratic Party, women get preferential treatment. Democratic Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu proclaimed that her state was "racist and sexist." On Nov. 4 Landrieu got 18 percent of the white male vote, and she is certain to lose the Dec. 6 runoff to a Republican.
As an issue, "reproductive rights" was a non-starter. Under "Obamacare," any woman can get birth control pills, even if they work for a Catholic institution. "Roe v. Wade" will never be overturned. Yet when senators such as Mark Udall of Colorado build their campaign around "protecting reproductive rights," younger women are perplexed because they’re already protected, and white men are incensed; they broke for Udall’s foe, Republican Cory Gardner, by more than 65-35.
A president’s popularity during a mid-term election affects his party. Virtually every losing Democratic senator replicated Obama’s "unfavorables" and failed to corral Obama’s 2008 and 2012 vote.
Third, there is a perception that Americans of non-color, who are not secular, who are people of faith, and who are working class, are not much appreciated by Obama and his crowd. Polls indicate that two-thirds of non-church goers are Democrats and that two-thirds of church goers are Republicans.
Politics has always been more about culture than ideology. People vote the way their parents voted. Blacks vote Democratic because the Republicans are "rich white racists," and affluent northern suburbanites vote Democratic because the Republicans want to "invade their bedroom."
Obama has polarized and realigned America’s culture and politics. He has erased the George Bush-tainted Republican brand, and he has rebranded the Democrats as the party of Hollywood, gays, minorities and feminists. In just three election cycles — 2010, 2012 and 2014 — Obama has made the Republicans the majority party in every rural area.
For example, in the 11 Southern states of the Confederacy, plus West Virginia, Kentucky and Oklahoma, the Republicans hold 11 of 14 governorships, 23 of 28 Senate seats (counting Louisiana), 115 of 153 congressional seats and virtually every down-ballot statewide office, and they control an astounding 27 of 28 legislative chambers. At the advent of Obama’s presidency, the Democrats held 64 of 145 U.S. House seats. Under Obama’s watch, every white Democrat from a rural or non-black-majority suburban seat has been defeated.
That same realignment has occurred throughout the Midwest, except in Illinois. That’s Obama’s legacy: a polarized culture and a revitalized Republican party.
Fourth, Obama imperiousness knows no bounds. By executive order, he shielded 5 million illegal immigrants from deportation. He refused to defend law enforcement authorities in Ferguson, Mo., even though his own Justice Department and the FBI participated in the grand jury investigation. He seems tentative in foreign affairs, and h e still has three wars to maintain, even though he promised in 2008 to end them all. "Obamacare" still has flaws, and the economy, although now growing at 3.9 percent annually, is perceived as sluggish.
Clinton’s problem, if she runs in 2016, will be to clearly differentiate herself from the Obama Administration, even though she was his secretary of state, while not estranging or alienating his black and liberal base. That will take the guile of a magician. Black voters will support Clinton, but only if she campaigns in minority areas, praises Obama, and does not sound like a Republican. Otherwise, the black vote will collapse, and Clinton will lose key states such as Ohio, Colorado, Georgia, Virginia, North Carolina and Wisconsin.
Historically, an unpopular second-term president is an anchor around his potential successor’s neck. In 1960 Republican Dwight Eisenhower was blamed for a recession and doomed Richard Nixon. In 1968 Democrat Lyndon Johnson was saddled with Vietnam and doomed Hubert Humphrey. In 1988 Republican Ronald Reagan remained viable and bequeathed his job to George Bush. In 2000, despite his impeachment travails, Bill Clinton was still popular and the economy was booming. If Al Gore had been less timid and allowed Clinton to campaign for and with him, he would have beaten George W. Bush.
In 2008, with a financial meltdown, unresolved wars and no weapons of mass destruction in Iran, Bush fatigue made Republican John McCain unelectable. Obama was the fresh face, and McCain couldn’t rebrand the Republicans. A similar situation looms in 2016. If the Republicans run a retread like Mitt Romney, Clinton could have a chance.
However, if they run somebody fresh and salable, such as Chris Christie or Rand Paul, Obama will be a huge drag, especially if he continues his combative, contrarian liberal ways for the next 2 years.
Projecting the future on the basis of the present is a fool’s game, but this much is certain: The Obama Nation is evaporating as quickly as the president is diminishing.
Send e-mail to russ@russstewart. com or visit his Web site at www. russstewart.com.