When President Obama took office in 2009, his party was in better shape than it had been since the era following Watergate. The Democrats controlled both houses of Congress by very comfortable margins. They had just regained the White House in a historic election. They believed they would control Washington for decades, if not generations, to come. Yet fewer than six years later, their congressional majorities have been annihilated and their prospects for retaining the presidency in 2016 are far less promising than they were just a month ago. Virtually all this devastation has been caused by Obama himself.
Following November’s midterms, Democrats are stuck between Barack and a hard place. On the one hand, Obama costs them dearly with the general electorate. On the other, Democrats are unable to motivate their base without Obama on the ballot. For Democrats, this is a no-win situation — and exactly what they have encountered in the last two midterm elections.
Democrats have inherited a considerable “Obama debt.”
In Congress, before Obama took office, Democrats held 51 Senate seats and 232 House seats; now, just 46 and 186, respectively.
The same is true with key voters. In Obama’s 2008 win, Democrats took 51 percent of Independent and 50 percent of suburban voters; in 2014, exit polls showed them with 42 percent and 43 percent, respectively.
Even worse is the “strong opinion” gulf. According to Rasmussen polling, on Election Day 2008, Obama had a 40 percent strong approval rating and 32 percent strong disapproval rating. On Election Day 2014, Obama’s strong approval rating was just 21 percent, while his strong disapproval rating was 40 percent.
On November 4, voters fired the Democratic majority in the U.S. Senate, replacing it with a GOP majority that campaigned against Obamacare and big spending. But the Democrats who lost are still running the show. These lame ducks lack the moral authority to govern. They shouldn’t be allowed to do any more than the bare minimum to keep government operating until January, when the new Congress meets. Allowing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to ram through an omnibus spending bill for the coming year, or make other key decisions, would be like letting your ex-spouse keep using your checkbook. One of the first acts of the next Congress should be to outlaw lame duck sessions.
Lame duck sessions were unavoidable before jet planes. The framers of the U.S. Constitution provided 17 weeks for newly elected lawmakers to travel and take their seats on March 3. That was the 18th century.
According to an election eve poll conducted by Latino Decisions, immigration was the top issue for Latino voters in this election cycle.
— National Council of La Raza, Press Release, Thursday, November 6, 2014
What is the truth in this statement now that we know that so many Latinos eligible to vote stayed home? If it was their top issue, then President Obama’s early September announcement to delay any executive action on immigration until after the election, presented them with two alternatives: vote to retain a Democratic majority in the Senate and to obtain a Democratic majority in the House, or stay home to protest. The voter turnout would suggest that they chose the second. And, the day after the election, the President said he “heard” the two-thirds (of all voters, including Hispanic voters) who stayed home. Accordingly, he has spoken constantly since then about issuing an executive order on immigration.
The math looks good. Very good. One can presume that when the American people head to the polls this November, the GOP will hold the House and perhaps strengthen its majority there. The Senate is a tantalizing six seats from Republican control, and Republicans have twelve prospects. In three red states—Montana, South Dakota, and West Virginia—strong, experienced, Republican candidates are running ahead of second and third-string Democrats. In another four states that voted for Romney—Louisiana, Arkansas, North Carolina, and Alaska—first-tier Republicans are challenging incumbents who vote in lockstep with Obama. And in another five states—Iowa, Colorado, Oregon, Michigan, and New Hampshire—particularly strong Republican candidates could upset seemingly stronger opponents.
Republicans now have majorities in both chambers of the legislature in twenty-eight states, while Democrats fully control only seventeen. Come November, Republicans have a good shot at seizing control of the West Virginia House, the New Hampshire House, the Iowa Senate, and the Oregon House and Senate. There are no likely pickups for the Dems in state legislative bodies.
At a recent small dinner at the end of the fabulous Freedomfest gathering at the Paris Hotel in Las Vegas, major supply siders, libertarians, Tea Partiers, and traditional conservatives gathered to discuss strategies to regain political power in Washington. The libertarian faction fumed with the familiar complaint that the GOP will only win back young and female voters in 2016 by abandoning social issues like abortion and gay marriage—which would in effect toss the evangelicals off the bus.
Yet this has also become a common recommendation from the country-club Republicans who may not be members of the Tea Party movement but who write the big checks. “We must have a truce on the social issues; it is turning off voters” complains one prominent Wall Street financier who raises money for the party. By “truce,” he means “surrender.”
“There is no possibility of a government shutdown. Remember me? I’m the guy that gets us out of government shutdowns,”
— Soon-to-be-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to Time magazine
The lefties over at Think Progress were elated.
It was September 30, 2013, and they thought they had the GOP right where they wanted it as Texas Senator Ted Cruz plowed ahead with the idea of defunding Obamacare — an action that caused Democrats to promptly shut down the government — and blame not just Cruz but the Republican Party. The whole event was giving prominent Republicans in and out of office the political willies.
“We ought to be debating the fact that corporations are now controlling not only the Republican Party, but the government of the United States.”
— Howard (“Screamin’”) Dean, November 9, Meet the Press
“Don’t let anybody tell you that it’s corporations and businesses that create jobs.”
— Hillary (“What Difference Does It Make”) Clinton, October 24, Boston
54-42, Senate Democrats vote in favor of S.J. Resolution 19, to gut the First Amendment, September 11
— reported by Mark Pfiefle on this page
The American people spoke loud and clear: stop Obama. Period. What they delivered Tuesday night was an unmitigated defeat for liberalism. They want Obamacare repealed, the economy unchained, and amnesty opposed. Among other things.
Yet with planted news stories from GOP establishment operatives in both the Washington Post and the New York Times the idea was being spread that this overwhelming rejection of liberals was in fact a victory for the very ruling class mindset that was explicitly campaigned against by all those Republican winners.
Less than a week before Election Day 2014, Democrats in South Carolina finally got what they’ve long been waiting for: proof that dirt on Senator Lindsey Graham does, indeed, exist. No one expected it to affect his re-election, but the glimpse into Graham’s unscripted life was noteworthy nonetheless. The big secret? That the venerable senator from South Carolina apparently has his eye on bigger and better things.
The public may or may not be inclined to take Graham at his word when he says that he was just being “earthy” when he told a group of white males in Charleston recently that “I’m trying to help you with your tax status. I’m sorry the government’s so f---ed up. If I get to be president, white men in male-only clubs are going to do great in my presidency.”
According to the tape provided to CNN by “two separate South Carolina Democrats,” his audience laughed. The rest of South Carolina did too — at the idea of a President Lindsey Graham.