At Red State, Moe Lane breaks down the numbers and concludes, “The Democrats’ problem is not that the youth vote is less enthusiastic about voting against Republican candidates: it’s that their support from voters between 30 and 64 has apparently taken similar nosedives. And that over-65 voters appear even more ready to vote Republican this go-round.”
Or maybe it’s by the memo from Carville’s firm declaring: “Health care’s passage did not produce even a point rise in the president’s approval rating or affection for the Democratic Congress. Virtually every key tracking measure in April’s poll has remained unchanged, including the Democrats’ continued weakness on handling of the economy.” I concluded that the Democrats convinced themselves that they would get a bounce from passing Obamacare because they simply couldn’t face the alternative.
Now, I’m on record predicting that an 80-seat GOP pickup would not be out of the question if congressional Democrats passed the president’s unpopular health care overhaul. And I never believed passage would improve the president’s popularity — or that of Congress.
What Jim’s post really did was remind me (yet again of the arrogance of the Obama Democrats. They, as numerous bloggers and pundits on the right have said, misread their mandate. They saw in a vote for change and against George W. Bush, a vote to give their party carte blanche for legislative action. And just assumed the people would go along because it was they who were acting and not W and those nasty Republicans.
In short, they projected their own prejudices onto the American people, thinking that they hated the GOP as much as they did. They saw the GOP’s low numbers in 2008 and well into 2009 and just assumed people weren’t ready to return to the Republican fold.
They dismissed any possibility of a diminution in support for the Democrats. They were the non-George W. Bush party– and people were going to give them a wide berth. But, the American people didn’t want such a wide berth. To be sure, they wanted change, but a lot of them wanted the kind of change the Tea Party protesters are promoting. Barack Obama and his team know this too. Why else would he have campaigned for a “net spending cut” and faulted the Bush Republicans for “living beyond our means”?
All that said, I don’t think the Democrats needed to push a small-government agenda to retain the affection of the American people. We were willing to give the new team a chance to change and would have cut them some slack had their big government initiatives been less big.
Had Democrats been less aggressive, say, cut the “stimulus” in half and tinkered with health care reform instead of pushng through an unpopular overhaul, we might be looking at the possibility of a status quo election this fall, with the GOP making only minor gains. Such results would certainly strengthen the hand of the Democrats in the 112th Congress and could well have led to a Democratic majority for the coming decade.
But, in pushing such massive overhauls and such incredible increases in spending, these Democrats only served to give the Republicans a new lease on life — and jeopardized their majorities and the president’s legacy.
NB: This post grew in the revising and I added in a whole new middle section after posting. I found the flow didn’t work between two paragraphs, so ended up ending in several more to make my case. Now, the title doesn’t work as well as it once did. I also put the post in the Random Thoughts category.