Free Markets, Free People

Obama OK But Congressional Democrats In Trouble

Charlie Cook, one of the most respected of the political prognosticators, continues to sound the alarm for Congressional Democrats. Since August, Cook has been telling them they’re headed for electoral disaster in the 2010 midterms if they don’t change their ways.

Most of the erosion of support has taken place among independents. Although the country still seems willing to give President Obama the benefit of the doubt, at latest for the time being, they’re not willing to extend that to Congress. The threat to the Democratic majority in the House, unsurprisingly, comes in the districts of the Blue Dogs:

I am becoming convinced, based on this and other research, that although many independent voters are disappointed in specific things that Obama has done, they still hope that he will do well and believe that he might. To be sure, red America has already given Obama the thumbs down. And blue America just wishes he would be more liberal. But it’s purple America, the independents who voted for Democrats in the 2006 midterm election by an 18-point margin, that makes the biggest difference right now. Most House Democrats live in blue America and show little awareness that their party has a problem. However, the Democrats’ majority is built on a layer of 54 seats that the party picked up in 2006 and 2008 that are largely in purple — or even red — America. Democrats ought to keep in mind that 84 of their current House members represent districts won by President Bush in 2004 or John McCain in 2008.

A whopping 48 of those Democrats — eight more than the size of their party’s majority — are from districts that voted for both Bush and McCain. That America is very different from the Democratic base in blue America, and it sees many major issues very differently.

Two things to note – as Cook notes, the number of Blue Dog districts comprise more than the Democratic majority in the House. If independents continue to desert Democrats in the numbers they have, it is not at all inconceivable that they could lose every one of those districts (all of which voted for Bush and McCain).

Secondly, the other point to understand is the leadership comes from the “blue” side of the tracks – safe blue districts – consequently they’re most likely not going to back off on their more liberal agenda (Pelosi’s claim that the health care bill will not pass the House without a “public option” being a perfect example). That could end up mortally wounding Democrats chances in those 84 districts that are traditionally red districts – enough so the Republicans regain the majority.

The political tea leaves continue to point to trouble from Democrats as well:

The 17-point advantage that Democrats enjoyed in the January Gallup Poll (when “leaners” were included) shrank to 5 points in August. Their edge on the generic congressional ballot test has vanished, according to most national polls. For three years, Democrats enjoyed high single-digit or low double-digit leads on this question — a very good indicator of which direction (and how hard) the political winds are blowing as a congressional election nears.

Of course the question is “can Democrats recover before November, 2010?”

What we are seeing is an electorate growing just as disgusted with the Democratic majority as it did with the Republican one in 2006. The mounting ethics problems of House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., combined with ongoing allegations about House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman John Murtha, D-Pa., and others on his panel threaten to make matters still worse for their party.

Despite Nancy Pelosi’s promises to have the “most ethical Congress ever” when Democrats were swept into the majority in Congress, she’s shown no stomach for actually taking on the tough ethical problems the House Democrats face. Cook is implying that unless they do (and they won’t), that combined with their agenda and the growing disgust among independents with both, could doom their chances of maintaining their majorities in 2010 (much less likely in the Senate, but the Democratic majority may be much less than at present by the end of election night).

Some Democrats are beginning to see the possibility of such an occurrence. Joe Biden said recently that the agenda the administration is pursuing is over if Republicans win in 2010.

We can only hope Cook is correct – mixed government would be a God send given this president.



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23 Responses to Obama OK But Congressional Democrats In Trouble

  • I am still not certain there will be such an avalanche as some people hope for. Sure the party out of power always gains in the off year elections, and the conservative grass roots is fired up.

    But the Dems have a huge machine and some tremendous advantages. Remember that if any election is close, Like the Franken one, the Dems will just keep counting until they steal it. Every state with a large hispanic population where the Dems control the voting apparatus will be inundated with illegal voters, although Acorn’s troubles might curtail that a little.

    I see a nice pick up for Republicans but only a little better than historical.

  • Hey, Democrats! Although I left your silly party over a decade ago, my heart is still essentially with your platform and agenda. That being said, I would ask all of you to think of me as Dr. Degan, your loving and trusted family veterinarian. After a complete and thorough examination of your beloved pets, it grieves me to offer you this final diagnosis:

    Your Blue Dogs must be put to sleep.

    The Democrats are not going to distinguish their party by trying to sell themselves as Republican Lite. They’re not going to turn America around by foolishly preserving the policies of the last thirty years. They need to educate their constituency by showing them the folly of their abhorrence of things “Left” and “Liberal”. Three-quarters-of-a-century ago, American democracy was saved by a government that was decidedly left-of center in all but a few areas. It can happen again. But it’s only going to happen if WEEDA PEEPOLE refuse to turn right at the next crossroad. It is only down the road.

    Now if you’ll excuse me, Dr. Degan has some Blue Dogs on his table that need to be put out of our misery.

    Tom Degan
    Goshen, NY

    • What a hoot! The Dems are failing because they’re not far enough Left? What is it you don’t understand about the polling data that indicates significant majorities of voters do NOT like Obama’s policies? Doesn’t that tell you he’s already too far Left?

      This is a Center-Right country and Obama is leaning too far Left. Best thing that could happen to him is for the Reps to take the House in 2010 (just like they did in 1994 for Clinton); then Obama could govern as a practical, sensible Centrist and really get some bi-partisan (half a loaf) legislation passed. Instead of constantly having to genuflect to the radical Left and deal with legislation that can’t get a single Rep vote.

      And if you think bi-partisanship is not important, think again. In my case I will not support ANY health care legislation unless it gets 80-85 votes in the Senate. That’s my yardstick for measuring whether the legislation is truly pragmatic and Centrist…as opposed to radical Left manure that will balloon the debt and leave us with crappy govt programs that don’t work.

  • “We can only hope Cook is correct – mixed government would be a God send given this president.”

    You mean the guys who gave us Prescription Drug Coverage?

    To be honest, the Republican offerings are a bunch of self-serving politicians that are terrified to risk being singled out and demonized by the media. And the media will demonize them in various districts for not supporting h.c. while they’ll limit themselves on how much they go after democrats that don’t support h.c.

    The Republicans could have killed this bill already. All they would have had to do was propose an amendment that required Congress and Government Workers to use the same plan and not just bring up the fact. When the Democrats voted it down, it would have politically destroyed the effort. But the problem is if they propose it, there’s small chance Democrats might call their bluff. And they don’t want to risk getting the h.c. the rest of us will be stuck with.

    The real problem for the republicans is whether my view of them is valid, much of the middle has a similar view. And although they are getting upset with the current lot, their view of the old lot hasn’t improved either. Maybe in 12 months it will be different, but if the election was held now, I’d say the disgust with current democrats will lead to fewer gains than expected. At least for this first Congressional election.

    • 2nd paragraph should read:

      “The real problem for the republicans isn’t whether my view of them is valid, its that much of the middle has a similar opinion regardless the specifics.”

    • The Republicans have a bill to require all Congressmen be subject to whatever health care legislation. It is sponsored by a rep. from Louisiana and co-sponsored by nearly all Republicans and no Dems. Pelosi et. al would never allow a vote on such a bill. Wish our system had a mechanism to allow certain minority (regardless) legislation opportunity to be brought to the floor even when opposed by majority party, esp. majority party leaders.

      • That doesn’t really change what I said. They put it in a bill that anyone could guess wouldn’t reach the floor. It gave them a reason to bring it up. But they need confront the democrats with it publicly.

        An amendment proposed to the bill under consideration would force democrats to start going on record turning it down.

  • Tom,

    I heartily endorse your plan to eliminate the Blue Dog Democrats. I encourage you to get substantially more liberal candidates in those districts to win the primary and then enter the general. Make sure your candidates strongly emphasize their liberal philosophy.

    What could possibly go wrong?


  • Its almost as if Americans want the first African-American president to succeed and they will give him some “help” by voting in the right to Congress to temper his policies they don’t like.

    since he’s giving Congress the lead on most policies, it makes sense, too.

  • This all depends on who winds up being the Republican challenger in each state. Never underestimate the talent of the Rep party for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory by fielding death-before-electability candidates.

    • I agree. Unless the Reps. give me a reason to vote FOR them rather than against the Dems, I am staying home. I have had it with the lesser of two evils BS.

  • Can’t speak for anyone but myself…but I will be taking a really good long look at everyone’s voting record. I don’t really care what their party affiliation is, if I don’t like what they’ve been doing I’m voting NO.

  • I disagree. I think that the President’s contrary answers to the same questions are being seen as a pattern of prevarication now.

    Consider that several months ago he reassured the Poles and Czechs on missile defense; He asked that we put the CIA debacle behind us; he stated clearly that he supported the surge in Afghanistan. Since then, his actions and that of his administration have given lie to each.

    On health care, even AP just called his plan a tax rather than his preferred euphemism. Get a dictionary Mr. President and don’t play semantics with semanticists. A hard left Congressional leadership is going to drive the whole bunch of them off the cliff.

    Really, what could possibly go wrong now?

  • Several commenters have expressed the opinion that the GOP is not much better than the dems. I agree. It’s pathetic that the GOP is apparently poised to do well in ’10 NOT because they are offering anything substantively different than the democrats, but rather because the democrats have been so bloody awful that people are sick of them after only eight months of them controlling the entire government.

    On a related note, there is a bit of a feud going on between Glen Beck and Mark Levin over Beck’s remarks that McCain would have been a worse president than TAO. While it’s hard to conceive of McCain (or anybody) doing worse than TAO, there is an underlying truth: McCain would have been worse for REPUBLICANS as he would have continued and even increased the damage done to the GOP “brand” by George Bush. As it stands, the damage being done by liberal (read: brainless) economic policies is being done by TAO to the dems, not by McCain to the GOP.

    • But don’t you realize that’s how Obama got elected? He didn’t get elected because he offerred anything of substance (just vagues promises of hope/change). He got elected because people were fed up with eight years of Bush, the Neocons, and general Republican incompetence/scandals.

      The worst mistake Dems have made is to assume Obama’s election was a mandate for socialism/liberalism. It was NOTHING of the kind; it was simply a rejection of those who had power for the last eight years.

      Obama missed a huge opportunity. Had he decided to govern from the Center, he could have got a lot of things done.

      • Oh, I absolutely agree, though I suggest that some “eight years of Bush, the Neocons, and general Republican incompetence/scandals” was a MiniTru creation: if all you hear for eight years from MiniTru is how incompetent Bush is, how sinister “neocons” are, and how incompetent and wicked Republicans are, it’s got to start making an impression.

        Otherwise, you are dead on: TAO got elected by refusing to delve into specifics, but rather by relying on empty slogans and buzzwords. It also helped (!) that MiniTru was totally in the tank for him and covered for his mistakes, misstatements, and general lack of substance, and that they were more than happy to trash his opponents in a disgraceful manner.

    • Another example of wasting time and effort on a pointless argument.

  • Obama’s personal popularity ratings remain pretty good, but the ratings for his various policies are tanking across the board.

    IMO Obama’s personal ratings are inflated because I think there are a LOT of people out there who will not criticize him personally because they’re afraid of being called racists.

    On the larger issue of his policies, IMO he’s being pulled too far Left by the House. Same problem Bill Clinton had. It’s no wonder they’re trying to ram all this junk through so fast; get done what you can before the voters fully understand how radical your legislation really is.

    • I tend to agree with JohnR on this count. Without taking the desire for the first black president to be a good role model into account as well as not wanting to be called racist it’s hard to understand why Obama’s policies are tanking and yet somehow he manages to have high approval ratings.

      Even so, there’s a limit to how nice people should be willing to be, I think. At some point, people have to be willing to step beyond those fears, otherwise, they’ll be afraid to say anything, and in a situation like this, where there’s so much power-grabbing going on, that’s a dangerous fear. So I don’t like President Obama because of his policies. That’s not a hate crime. It just means that I, personally, don’t approve of what he’s doing, nor what his friends in the Liberal Congress are doing. Anyone who thinks I’m a racist for that, isn’t worth listening to.

  • To be sure, it’s almost a law of nature that the party that wins the Presidency will lose seats in the next election, especially in the President’s first term. Bush avoided that fate primarily because of the aftermath of 9-11.

  • I don’t even know how someone could say obama okay but congressional democrats aren’t. neither one is okay. harry reid talks about the nuclear option. you have to ask yourself why are the dems so set on taking over 1/6 of the american economy and butting in-between you and your doctor. marxist that is why. recently the republicans controlled all of congress and the executive branch but they never once invoked the nuclear option. i’m afraid that if harry does this that in 2012 when this current marxist democratic government is thrown from power by the tea party goers and believers that we independents and republicans will have to invoke a few of our own nuclear option. 1. reverse obamas take over of healthcare. 2. end welfare in it’s entirety. 3. outlaw all reverse discrimination so called affirmative action programs. 4. bless the united states constitution. 5. sanctify marriage as man and woman in all 50 states and not man and man or woman and woman or beast. 6. major tax cuts for all working americans and businesses no matter what size. 7. end to cap and tax farce. 8. end to NEA fostering homosexual relationships. 9. put GOD back into schools and the TEN COMMANDMENTS back where ever they were removed from by liberal judges. 10. ETC, ETC.

    Bring it on harry reid because paybacks are hell.