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Looking for an anchor: The Obama Administration Adrift

by | May 8, 2014


By Dave Andrusko

Pro-abortion President Barack Obama

Pro-abortion President Barack Obama

When I sat down at my desk this morning with my cup of McDonald’s coffee, my eye caught the headline on a front page story in The Hill newspaper: “Is Obama’s presidency adrift?”

With a couple of minor qualifications thrown in (one Democratic strategist promises, “I can predict with near-certainty that sometime in the future I’ll be getting calls about how Obama has got his mojo back”), the answer is yes.

Niall Stanage’s key paragraph may be this:

“The president seems to have little chance of passing significant legislation. Some critics say he is not even trying to do so. Obama is no longer using his reelection mandate to govern, they say, but rather using the tools of government to build a campaign platform to help Democrats in their battle not to lose their Senate majority in the midterm elections.”

For academic support, Stanage turns to Julian Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University. “Absolutely, there is a sense that he’s adrift, and his approval ratings suggest many Americans are no longer content with his job performance,” he said.

Stanage’s article is just one of many pieces of evidence that (as Zelizer put it) the President “has big problems right now.” I didn’t have to look very far to immediately find two.

Here’s Gallup’s Andrew Dugan’s lead from a story that appeared this morning:

“Three in 10 registered voters say when they vote for a candidate in the fall midterm elections, it will be to send a message that they oppose U.S. President Barack Obama, equal to the amount who said this before the Republican wave election of 2010.”

He reinforces the point later when he adds,

“President Obama prominently figures in to the message self-identified Republican voters are trying to send. More than six in 10 Republicans (64%) say their vote will be a message of opposition to the president. This is on par with the situation in November 2010, illustrating that Republican resistance to the president is as strong today as it was before that pivotal election.”

One other Dugan quote illustrates the breadth of the President’s problem:

“A majority of self-identified Democrats (54%) say they will be voting to support the president, which is about where it was in 2010. This also indicates one of Obama’s problems: Only slightly more than half of Democrats are motivated to vote in support of him, while almost two-thirds of Republicans are willing to vote against him.”

How about Independents?

“More independents say they will vote to oppose the president (31%) than to support him (11%).”

And everyone agrees this will have a serious drag on Democrats running in this fall. That is not debatable, only the size of the hindrance is.

Take that from Gallup and add to the evidence that key Democratic constituencies appear to be less likely to vote in November—or be less Democratic, in the first place!

For example, Harry Enten writing yesterday for “Fivethirtyeight.”

The headline is, in my opinion, very misleading: Young voters in 2014 may be less Democratic-Leaning than in 2010 and 2012.” Let’s see why this description is true but inadequate.

Focusing primarily on polls from Pew Research Center and Quinnipiac, Enten concludes, “Democrats clearly hold a lead among young voters.” This is not exactly breaking news. Republicans clearly have had problems in recent elections with 18- to 29-year-olds.

But the key conclusion comes much later:

“In other words, young voters are less Democratic in comparison to the rest of the electorate than they were in the prior two elections….. Voters ages 18 to 29 were 22 points more Democratic-leaning than all voters in 2012, and 21 points more Democratic-leaning in 2010. These polls show young voters just 14 points, on average, more Democratic-leaning.

In other words, they are only 2/3rds as “Democratic-leaning” as they were two and four years ago.

At the very end, Enten adds this ominous (for Democrats) conclusion:

“Polling young voters is difficult. Even averaging across a number of surveys leaves room for error. Also, the likely voter electorate will almost certainly be more Republican than the registered voter electorate, though so, too, will likely younger voters. Younger voters in 2010, like all voters, were more likely to be white than in 2012.

“Put it all together and, at least at this point, it looks like younger voters in 2014 may be closer to all voters than in the prior two elections.”

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Categories: Obama
Tags: Obama