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- Obama’s Keystone Confusion - December 21, 2014
If you accidentally dropped your most treasured piece of jewelry into the toilet just as you were flushing, you’d scream, you’d cry, and you might tell a sympathetic friend . . . unless you were just too embarrassed.
Among President Obama’s formerly greatest champions — minorities, unions, so-called journalists and young voters — the swirling-into-oblivion administration has engendered a remarkable sullen silence, given their loss, as they passively give up on recovering their once-loved gem, now sullied by this government’s own political excrement.
Covered with the stench of debacles including Obamacare, the NSA, Syria, Benghazi, the IRS, and the AP, while demonstrating a level of incompetence so great that it must give pause to all but the most committed members of the cult of unlimited government, few liberals will be willing to dig through the muck to reclaim their once-prized possession.
While the media like to focus on Tea Party froth and Republican infighting, the key to the 2014 and 2016 elections is the effect of the Obama flush on his key supporters’ desire to vote for Democrats, or to vote at all.
Several recent polls point to 2014 as having the potential to be a Republican landslide. This is not because the GOP has found a coherent message or a compelling messenger but because Obama’s base has lost that lovin’ feelin’.
A poll released on Monday by Pew Research says that while 90 percent of liberal Democrats still profess approval of how President Obama is doing his job — more than double his approval in the population overall — the percentage who say they “strongly approve” has plunged to 54 percent, down almost 20 percent from just six months ago.
Compared to George W. Bush at the same point in his presidency, Obama has more total support from his base (90 percent of liberal Democrats versus Bush’s 82 percent support among conservative Republicans) but far less “strong support” (54 percent to Bush’s 65 percent). A strong supporter is a likely voter; any other supporter could just as easily stay home on Election Day.
In the 2006 midterm elections, the Bush analog to the upcoming 2014 midterms, with more strong support for President Bush than Obama has now among their respective bases, Democrats picked up 31 seats in the House of Representatives, ending a Republican majority and installing Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) as Speaker of the House.
In the Senate, Democrats picked up six seats by defeating Republican incumbents.
In the 2006 elections, as Wikipedia notes, “no Congressional or gubernatorial seat held by a Democrat was won by a Republican.”
Six years later, it was no accident that most of Barack Obama’s traffic-snarling trips to key swing states during the 2012 election cycle were visits to universities in Colorado (he visited CU three times in 2012), North Carolina, Iowa, Ohio and elsewhere, offering platitudes about college affordability. Obama was dependent on young, idealistic, and naïve young adults to win re-election.
A poll just prior to the election showed that college students preferred Obama to Mitt Romney by 30 percentage points, with an even larger gap in swing states where Obama focused most of his campaigning. And these young adults turned out in much larger numbers than the pundits had expected, with an estimated 50 percent turnout among voters ages 18 to 29, making up 19 percent of the electorate.
One study of the 2012 election concludes that “without young people, Ohio, Florida, Virginia, and Pennsylvania would have flipped from blue to red,” giving the election to Romney. You don’t need to go that far. If a moderate fraction of young voters were disinclined to participate in an election, or, even more impactfully, switched from Democrat to Republican, it could completely change American elections, many of which are decided by small single-digit percentage changes in voter preferences.
Among young adults those preferences are changing dramatically: A recent Harvard survey of 18- to 29-year olds shows plunging approval of Obama, down to 41 percent (from 52 percent last year), and now tracking with older Americans’ views. Along with a substantial decline in Democratic Party self-identification by 18-24 year olds, 52 percent of that group says they would recall President Obama if they could. And with more recent data, Fox News reported on Wednesday that Obama approval among registered voters under the age of 35 is down to 37 percent, lower than any other age group.
For conservatives, the good news here is substantial. By demonstrating not just incompetence but overt lies the Obama administration is undermining the faith of an increasingly libertarian millennial cohort in the Nanny State and its Democratic pied pipers.
Additionally, the Obama propagandists are — remarkably for people so effective with Facebook and Twitter during the last two presidential elections — showing a strangely off-putting social media aesthetic.
Their latest and perhaps greatest fail is “pajama boy,” an effete plaid-wearing cocoa-sipping geek, as their face of the generic young adult who should sign up for Obamacare.
What typical guy would take guidance from a character whose most common descriptive seems to be “douche”? For that matter, what young woman would?
As Reason magazine’s Nick Gillespie points out, “If you think the latest bid to reboot the public image of Obamacare is absolutely godawful, disturbing, pathetic, you name it (I know I do!), I’ve got news for you: You’re probably not the audience for it.”
But the problem for Democrats everywhere is that if the “hipster douchitude on a cracker” is the left’s “in-group,” that is a very thin reed on which to attach a political campaign. Getting the majority of graduate students in the Department of Comparative Lesbian Eskimo Literature isn’t going to win Senate elections, especially in competitive upcoming races in states like Louisiana, Arkansas, South Dakota, and West Virginia. (Boulder is another story.)
But it’s not just young people who are abandoning the false promise of “hope and change.”
A Gallup poll released earlier this month shows massive declines among all of Obama’s core base groups, led by a stunning 23 percent drop in Obama’s approval among Hispanics since last December. Among those earning less than $24,000 a year, the plunge was 18 percent. Nonwhite support of Obama fell 17 percent (though it still remains high at 65 percent). Support among moderates fell 16 percent and among 18-29 year-olds tumbled 15 percent, both resting under 50 percent with groups Democrats must have to win.
And so the Obama presidency circles the drain.
Union members are furious about the impact of Obamacare on their “Cadillac” health plans. In August, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, which has over 40,000 members in the United States, dissolved their ties with the AFL-CIO based in large part on the AFL-CIO chief Richard Trumka’s active role in helping Obamacare become law.
Several other large labor unions are now suffering buyer’s remorse over the ironically named Affordable Care Act. Union dissatisfaction with the Obama administration has become intense enough that even the Washington Post’s Ezra Klein was compelled to report on it.
Among reporters, however, it’s more of a Silver Blaze situation: notable for the lapdogs not barking. Some are reluctantly recognizing that what little credibility they and their profession have left requires telling today’s political stories with near-honesty rather than serving as Obama’s human shields.
Of course there are holdouts: The slavishly pro-Obama NBC News begins a story about the president’s 38 percent job approval in Iowa by saying, “Not that he’s running for anything again.” I’m sure that makes the reporter feel better.
That’s par for the “journalistic” course among the usual old-line news outlets whose J-school-graduate employees are inconsolable as the legacy of their “historic” president swirls in the bowl like Tuesday’s pot roast, substantially less appealing after being fully digested.
And while the Hollywood celebrity elite try to stand their ground, the Wall Street Journal’s Peggy Noonan believes that “New York’s Democrats, to the degree they ever loved the president, don’t love him anymore, and have moved on. They are not thinking about what progress he might make in Washington next year, they’re talking about what Hillary might do the year after that.”
Yet all this talk about President Obama obscures a larger point, though one not lost on likely-to-be-ex-Senator Mark Pryor (D-AR) and other vulnerable Democrats — or on the declining Mrs. Clinton herself: The flush isn’t just sucking away Obama’s last measure of relevancy, but the relevancy of his party and his philosophy, and the morale and commitment of their supporters.
The last remaining glimmer of Obama’s political capital and personal appeal, and thus his ability to help vulnerable Democrats in the 2014 elections and beyond, is flowing into the septic tank of Progressive history.
As of now, President Obama is to Democratic contenders what an accidentally flushed necklace would be to a woman trying to impress a date — if she pulled it out of the muck and put it around her neck without first washing it off.
Some things you just have to let go.
[First published at the American Spectator.]