Archive for Friday, November 6, 2009

Obama’s political coattails are history

November 6, 2009


Sure, Election Day 2009 will scare moderate Democrats and make passage of Obamacare more difficult. Sure, it makes it easier for resurgent Republicans to raise money and recruit candidates for 2010. But the most important effect of Tuesday’s elections is historical. It demolishes the great realignment myth of 2008.

In the aftermath of last year’s Obama sweep, we heard endlessly about its fundamental, revolutionary, transformational nature. How it was ushering in an FDR-like realignment for the 21st century in which new demographics — most prominently, rising minorities and the young — would bury the GOP far into the future. One book proclaimed “The Death of Conservativism,” while the more modest merely predicted the terminal decline of the Republican Party into a regional party of the Deep South or a rump party of marginalized angry white men.

This was all ridiculous from the beginning. The 2008 election was a historical anomaly. A uniquely charismatic candidate was running at a time of deep war weariness, with an intensely unpopular Republican president, against a politically incompetent opponent, amid the greatest financial collapse since the Great Depression. And still he won by only seven points.

Exactly a year later comes the empirical validation of that skepticism. Virginia — presumed harbinger of the new realignment, having gone Democratic in ’08 for the first time in 44 years — went red again. With a vengeance. Barack Obama had carried it by six points. The Republican gubernatorial candidate won by 17 — a 23-point swing. New Jersey went from plus 15 Democratic in 2008 to minus 4 in 2009. A 19-point swing.

What happened? The vaunted Obama realignment vanished. In 2009 in Virginia, the black vote was down by 20 percent; the under-30 vote by 50 percent. And as for independents, the ultimate prize of any realignment, they bolted. In both Virginia and New Jersey they’d gone narrowly for Obama in ’08. This year they went Republican by a staggering 33 points in Virginia and by an equally shocking 30 points in New Jersey.

White House apologists will say the Virginia Democrat was weak. If the difference between Bob McDonnell and Creigh Deeds was so great, how come when the same two men ran against each other statewide for attorney general four years ago the race was a virtual dead heat? Which made the ’09 McDonnell-Deeds rematch the closest you get in politics to a laboratory experiment for measuring the change in external conditions. Run them against each other again when it’s Obamaism in action and see what happens. What happened was a Republican landslide.

The Obama coattails of 2008 are gone. The expansion of the electorate, the excitement of the young, came in uniquely propitious Democratic circumstances and amid unparalleled enthusiasm for electing the first African-American president.

November ’08 was one-shot, one-time, never to be replicated. Nor was November ’09 a realignment. It was a return to the norm — and definitive confirmation that 2008 was one of the great flukes in American political history.

The irony of 2009 is that the anti-Democratic tide overshot the norm — deeply blue New Jersey, for example, elected a Republican governor for the first time in 12 years — because Democrats so thoroughly misread 2008 and the mandate they assumed it bestowed. Obama saw himself as anointed by a watershed victory to remake American life. Not letting the cup pass from his lips, he declared to Congress only five weeks after his swearing-in his “New Foundation” for America — from remaking the one-sixth of the American economy that is health care to massive government regulation of the economic lifeblood that is energy.

Moreover, the same conventional wisdom that proclaimed the dawning of a new age last November dismissed the inevitable popular reaction to Obama’s hubristic expansion of government, taxation, spending and debt — the tea party demonstrators, the town hall protesters — as a raging rabble of resentful reactionaries, AstroTurf-phony and Fox News-deranged.

Some rump. Just last month, Gallup found that conservatives outnumber liberals by 2 to 1 (40 percent to 20 percent) and even outnumber moderates (at 36 percent). So on Tuesday, the “rump” rebelled. It’s the natural reaction of a center-right country to a governing party seeking to rush through a left-wing agenda using temporary majorities created by the one-shot election of 2008. The misreading of that election — and of the mandate it allegedly bestowed — is the fundamental cause of the Democratic debacle of 2009.


MyName 8 years, 5 months ago

Or maybe the off year elections for governor (that obviously not enough dems cared enough about to turn out for) were the anomaly? And not really much of an anomaly since the "conservative" candidates in NY and other states lost while the more moderate ones didn't.

Considering the fact that the 2008 elections were country wide, while these elections were in a handful of states, I'd lean towards this explanation. But again, the best thing about this election is that it shows that conservatives and the GOP are so weak they have to reach for an off-year election to find any good news!

And for the first poster: all the information you put out shows is that the word "liberal" has been turned into a slur in American politics. And it really has nothing to do with who will win next year as the Democrats are the big tent party right now and the Republicans are busy running people out who don't pass whatever litmus test their putting out. You can't win elections if you're picking up <40% of America.

jimmyjms 8 years, 5 months ago

The kool-aid is strong with this one.

Funny that Chuck forgot to mention the fact that the GOP managed to lose a seat they'd held for over 100 years.

Off-year elections are about local issues and have zero predictive power. I'd provide the link to the research, but you chumps wouldn't read it anyway, so screw it.

jimmyjms 8 years, 5 months ago

"New York's 23rd congressional district has historically been one of the most Republican districts in the United States. Most of the area in what is NY-23 has not been represented by a Democrat since the 19th century. A large portion—including the largest city, Watertown — has not been represented by a Democrat since the 1850s. In parts of the district, the last non-Republican Representative was a Whig.[7]"'s_23rd_congressional_district_special_election,_2009

Wouldn't it be nice if someone who was going to call themselves "opposeobama" would at least have the decency to know what they're talking about?

Peter Peyser was a Republican for six years before serving as a Dem for 4 years. He never held a seat in NY-23, he served in NY-25.

Mr. Stratton served NY-32, Mr. McNulty served NY-21.


jimmyjms 8 years, 5 months ago

Ah, opposeobama apparently doesn't understand what "redistricting" is, which is odd for a GOP fanboy.

From the exact same source as the one you posted:

"The area comprising this district has historically been one of the most Republican in the United States. Most of the area in what is NY-23 has not been represented by a Democrat since the 19th century. A large portion, including the largest city, Watertown, has not been represented by a Democrat since the 1850s. In parts of the district, the last non-Republican Representative was a Whig.[1]"

"With 92 percent of the precincts reporting early Wednesday, Owens defeated businessman Doug Hoffman, the Conservative Party candidate, 49 percent to 45 percent, after a boost from unified labor efforts in the last days of the campaign. The GOP had represented the region for more than a century. Republican John McHugh vacated the seat to become Army secretary."

"Put it all together, and you have the perfect strategy for turning a congressional seat that had been in Republican hands for well over a century into a Democratic seat. As recently as last month, polls showed Scozzafava trouncing both the Democrat Bill Owens and Conservative Hoffman in the polls. Not an easy race for Republicans to lose, but the Tea Party nihilists showed how."

BigDog 8 years, 5 months ago

It is waaaayyy too early to project the impact of the races this week upon next year's elections. A lot can happen between now and then especially with the economy ..... if it improves Obama could be big again in the outcomes ... positively.

If the economy doesn't improve much and unemployment is still high ..... I see Obama having a big impact on Democrats negatively.

Given the economic projections for the state .... I wouldn't expect the economy to be roaring.

Other domestic and foreign events could also impact the election ..... Afganistan for one

Either way it is too early to take much from these few elections. Kansas will be seeing a much more conservative Governor unless Democrats can find a big-time candidate I know for certain.

supertrampofkansas 8 years, 5 months ago


I'm with jimmiejims. It is hard to believe that a GOP guy doesn't understand what redistricting means. I think this issue has been hashed and rehashed over and over many times. Do we really need to hear this again?

jimmyjms 8 years, 5 months ago

This is what the GOP has become. Pouting little babies who want to argue over semantics.

"Whom shall I believe? CBS, the Washington Post, Slate, Politico, Rassmussen....or some whiney blogger named "opposeobama? It's just so hard to figure out where the credibility lies..."

supertrampofkansas 8 years, 5 months ago

The Washinton Post disagrees with you, you little GOPer you. You're so cute when you get all riled up!

jimmyjms 8 years, 5 months ago

By sticking to your tired line, you're proving that in fact, you do not understand what redistricting is, OO.

Boy! You sure sound tuff, calling people names here, anonymously, on a blog!

preebo 8 years, 5 months ago

Wow. Charlie has an unfavorable view of Obama, and his reading of the tea leaves has Obama on the way out. All of this is both shocking and surprising. It's almost as surprising as the few conservatives in Lawrence (presumably, perhaps from Eudora and the like) coming on here and jumping on the bandwagon. Again, shocking! Lest us forget that the "Conservative" lost in NY's 23rd and both off-year elections in VA and NJ, respectively, were won by candidates that ran to the middle not to the right. I should also remind you all that the two races were for local-state offices, which have no impact on national policy.

So, to paraphrase the great American Satarist, Mark Twain, the rumors of Obama's (political) death are greatly exaggerated.

supertrampofkansas 8 years, 5 months ago

Opposeobama = KEVIN IS BACK

Whoo hoo! Let the games begin! I predict 2 hours this time.

Flap Doodle 8 years, 5 months ago

Worth repeating: And the NJ voters just didn't listen to Dear Leader's great teleprompter performance.

EXks 8 years, 5 months ago

Sarah "Mussolini" Palin in 2012......I can't wait!!!!

a_flock_of_jayhawks 8 years, 5 months ago

Kevin says... "Therefore, it is a lie to say that Republicans have held the NY-23 for more than 100 years"

The area that is presently NY-23 is the same area, but has undergone redistricting over the years. The people who live in that area and the communities there haven't moved and their political views apparently trend the that way.

Richard Heckler 8 years, 5 months ago

BTW while Bush-Cheney were in office no new large industry was developed after 8 years in office. The Bush people knew they lost about 3 million jobs in their first four years. Nothing was done about = grade F.

The Bush - Cheney home loan banking scheme nearly brought down the world economy thus a total of more than 8 million jobs were lost as a result the NOT economic giants of our time aka the republican party.

camper 8 years, 5 months ago

While the stimulus and Tarp packages just may have been effective in preventing a total collapse of the financial sector and soften a greater economic downturn, these measures should only be viewed as short-term remediation.

Long term issues like industry creation, job outsourcing, and small business incentives will take a much longer time. Health care is also essential because it is a significant employer cost which inhibits hiring new employees.

I acknowledge that the President Obama administration and the final days Bush admin did much to address the 1st part. But just because our long term problems have not yet been solved does not prove that these dilemmas are not being addressed and that we need to reverse gears after only one year.

Though I wish things were better, I humbly give President Obama a B at this term. If we saw more movement in disengaging from Iraq and Afganistan, it would be an A.

Flap Doodle 8 years, 5 months ago

Psst, merrill, this thread's about Dear Leader. I know you miss President Bush, but sooner or later, you just have to let him go.

jimmyjms 8 years, 5 months ago

"What we will see is scores of defeated Democrats acorss the country because their leader, the man-child Obama, has been a miserable failure."

You're calling this administration a "miserable failure" at the 25% mark?

Most of Obama's first year has been spent digging us out of the hole that George W. Bush put us in, but Obama is the failure?

You cannot argue with logic like that.

corduroypants 8 years, 5 months ago

opposeobama (Anonymous) says… Supertramp sure is brave when he hides behind the tree of anonymity, isn't he? Care to come out in the open? Didn't think so.


This is the best post I've ever seen.

jimmyjms 8 years, 5 months ago

"Yes, I am. The unemployment rate was just 7 percent in January of this year. It is now 10.2 percent. If there was a hole in January, Obama has only succeeded in digging a deeper one."

Uh huh. I'm also displeased that his magic wand did not work.

How about that stock market?

verity 8 years, 5 months ago

I love that so many people know what is going to happen in 2012. Since that's when the world is going to end, according to some predictions, I guess we don't have to worry.

But in case the predictions are wrong, all those hoping the United States will be in such bad shape that Obama will not be a two-term president, you better come up with someone who can win. That's the little fly in your ointment---a viable candidate.

camper 8 years, 5 months ago

Opposeobama says, "A conservative, by definition, cannot be an extremist"

That would be very nice and comfortable and I wish it were so. But in the world of politics, things are not easily defined. Your argument is flawed and I'm willing to debate you.

a_flock_of_jayhawks 8 years, 5 months ago

Kevin says... “A conservative, by definition, cannot be an extremist."

Hmmm. Time for a litle PoliSci 101.

Conservatives that are at the extreme right end of the spectrum fall under the definition reactionary. Extremists on the opposite end of the spectrum are revolutionary. Conservative philosophy advocates opposition to change or a change back to the way things were in the past (the good ol' days). Progressive philosophy, liberal, if you will, advocates change.

jonas_opines 8 years, 5 months ago

Wow, comraderedrooster didn't last very long at all.

verity 8 years, 5 months ago

Still waiting for the name of a viable candidate to run against Obama in 2012.

verity 8 years, 5 months ago

I normally try to be civil and come here to try to have intelligent conversation (hope springs eternal), but that is about the stupidest reply I have ever heard (or seen).

You should care. Why are you here if you don"t care?

The question still stands.

verity 8 years, 5 months ago

Still waiting. Anyone?

A viable candidate of any persuasion? Left, right, up, down?

Myself, while I'm not exactly pleased with everything Obama has done and I fault Reed and Pelosi for no backbone (although Pelosi seems to maybe be growing one), I'll take them any day over McCain, with or without Palin.

jimmyjms 8 years, 5 months ago

"But I've come to realize the mere existence of George W. Bush had much more negative implications than I ever could have imagined. "

This despite having it pointed out to you, what, a thousand times at least?

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