Free Markets, Free People
I’m beginning to believe the saying circulating lately may have some truth to it – “if you voted for Obama in ‘08 to prove you weren’t a racist, you need to vote for someone else in ‘12 to prove you’re not stupid”.
It seems that at least one demographic may be over its fear of race and satisfied the historical moment has been satisfied and passed according to Pew:
Fifty-two percent of white voters identified themselves as Republicans compared with 39 percent who called themselves Democrats in the survey by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press. The rest said they were independents.
In 2008, 46 percent of white voters said they were Republicans versus 44 percent for Democrats.
That’s a fairly significant turn around. I think it is hard not to believe the point above isn’t somewhat true as well. I actually believe there is a portion of the white population that needed to prove to themselves they weren’t hung up on race. And the “historical” part was pretty compelling too. Being a part of voting the first black person into the highest office in the land had a psychological historical feel-good aspect too it that was appealing. It was something they could brag about to the grandchildren. And they would have, if only Obama had held up his end of the bargain and actually been someone for whom it was actually worth voting.
But for many of those voters, we now have what has been described as buyers remorse. Having bought into the demonization of the past president, George Bush, that portion of white voters who swung the election Obama’s way thought “really, how could he be worse – and John McCain? Get real.”
Well he is worse. In fact Obama is worse than their McCain nightmare. So we see the swing. Guilt and history have been assuaged.
What does that mean for Obama – well, as we’re all driven to say when asking that question right now – it’s early. But we may be spotting a trend if we talk about what happened and 2010 and now:
The findings pose a challenge to Obama as he seeks re-election next year. Republicans made big gains in the U.S. Congress and state governments in the 2010 mid-term elections and are attempting to deny Obama a second term as president.
"There was a large enthusiasm gap in 2010, with Republicans far more enthusiastic and interested in the election," said Leah Christian, a senior researcher at the Pew Center who worked on the report.
"A lot of what we’re seeing in the data is a continuation of where we were in 2010," she said.
The “enthusiasm gap” remains fairly large and continues to carry over from 2010. These numbers were first evident in 2010 during the Congressional elections.
However, that said, obviously a lot in the outcome in 2012’s presidential election will depend on the candidate the GOP finally settles on. The generic Republican seems to be doing pretty darn well these days. Unfortunately, the problem is with the specific Republican candidates – as usual.
As we watch the political theater that are these debt limit negotiations (and yes, I know the seriousness of all this, but this is political theater), it is interesting to watch the narratives being developed. On the left, the narrative they’re trying to push is the GOP is a bunch of intractable anti-tax zealots who don’t know how to say “yes”. On the right, the narrative seems to be … *sigh*, “no, we’re not.”
This is a game the GOP often plays – letting the other side frame the debate.
In fact, of the two sides, it is only the GOP that has actually put forward a plan. The president has certainly not put forward anything. He’s winging it. And Senate Democrats haven’t put up anything. They’ve simply refused to ratify the GOP plan (passed in the House – Cut, Cap and Balance (CCB)).
So who is the problem here? We have a GOP plan, we have no plan from Democrats or the White House. From them, all we have is grousing about the GOP plan and claims they won’t say yes to anything. Well, not true – they said “yes” to CCB, both in the House and the Senate. The only party that hasn’t said “yes” to it or anything is that of the Democrats.
Liberals say this is good for Obama because it shows GOP recalcitrance. Conservatives say that he has remained so committed to enormous tax increases that he tanked the very possibility of a deal. Time will tell, but it strikes me that the heated rhetoric he is using—”I didn’t get my phone call returned,” “I’ve been left at the altar,” “there’s nothing Republicans will say yes to”—does not suggest he, Obama, feels he has been handed a gift by Boehner and the GOP. He claims to have put $1.5 trillion in cuts on the table, plus $600 billion in entitlement reductions, in exchange for tax increases of the same size. He says Republicans said they would accept a dollar in higher taxes (or “revenue”) for every four dollars in cuts, which isn’t exactly saying “no’” to everything.
No, I’d say those who are saying “no” are Dems who want “increased revenues” and won’t take anything less than their version of that (and yeah, I’m not happy with the GOP talking about any sort of tax increase – but the claim here is that the revenues they’re agreeing too won’t come via tax increases per se, but tax reform.).
For their part, Republicans in the House passed their cut, cap and balance bill on Wednesday, and it included an increase in the debt ceiling, so even by his own account his criticisms of the GOP are not accurate.
Precisely. As Speaker Boehner said after the latest breakdown in negotiations:
“The House has passed its bill. We did our work. We passed our bill. The Senate hasn’t put a plan on the table. The president hasn’t put a plan on the table.”
If there’s a “no” contingent out there, it’s the bunch without a plan (except for raising taxes).