In search of a majority

2008 Electoral Map

Michael Barone had an interesting column today discussing President Barack Obama’s path to reelection and how well he fared in the 2008 election.

But it’s worth taking note of what he has squandered. In 2008, Obama won 53 percent of the popular vote. That may not sound like a landslide, but it’s more than any other Democratic presidential nominee in history except Andrew Jackson, Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson.

Higher than Woodrow Wilson and Grover Cleveland, higher than Harry Truman and John Kennedy, higher than Jimmy Carter and (but don’t bring up the subject with him) Bill Clinton.

Why have so few Democratic nominees won 53 percent or more, as 10 different Republican nominees have? The historical reason is that the Democratic Party has been an unruly coalition of disparate groups — big-city Catholics and Southern whites for the century after the Civil War — which usually has been hard to hold together.

I found it fascinating that only 3 democratic presidential candidates received a higher percentage of votes than Obama did in 2008.

He later goes on to discuss Obama’s popularity in several contested states and states Obama won in a land slide.

At the moment, the only states where polls since June show Obama with job approval as high as 50 or 51 percent are those where he got 60-plus percent in 2008, plus New Jersey, where he got 57 percent.

Those are enough to get him up to 200 electoral votes, 70 short of a majority.

It is often hard for me to comprehend how the political climate has changed since 2008. I have never been an Obama supporter, but I guess following his election I had hoped that he would live up to his best rhetoric; that maybe he could change this country for the better; that our doubts about him would be lifted. I remember his speech in Iowa following his victory in the caucus.

“If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.

“It’s the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen; by people who waited three hours and four hours, many for the very first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be different; that their voice could be that difference.

“It’s the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled – Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been a collection of Red States and Blue States: we are, and always will be, the United States of America.

Today even I long for some of the things Barack Obama promised in 2008, and for the things many assumed he stood for. Even many of the people who voted against him were willing to give him a chance. But the text of his speech above is incongruent with the rhetoric from the current man occupying the White House.

If those who supported the president in the earliest stages of his campaign on a message of hope and unity were able to look through a window into the present time, I wonder if they would feel disillusioned and turn away. Even as a conservative Republican and frequent critic of the president, I can’t help but feel an opportunity has been lost.

17 Replies to “In search of a majority”

  1. J Rae

    Bill said: “Today even I long for some of the things Barack Obama promised in 2008, and for the things many assumed he stood for.”

    First of all these are the kind of sentiments that should be kept in the closet.

    However, you did pique my interest…what were those things that you wanted to see him accomplish?

    1. insomniac

      Obama campaigned on a platform of unity and being above the fray. Partisan games were not what we wanted to see from someone like Obama.

      1. J Rae

        I agree there Insomniac and I’m guessing that Boehner, Cantor and McConnell are all distraught at how he has rebuffed their efforts to help him and the country.

        The sheer lack of filibusters and cloture votes coming from the loyal opposition should be proof enough that it is Obama that doesn’t want to get along.

        Oh, wait…you mean that they have set records for obstructing legislation…you sure?

        Never mind.

    2. 73*

      How about these for starters?

      ? Go through the budget, line by line, ending programs we don’t need and making the ones we do need work better and cost less.
      ? Slash earmarks.
      Eliminate oil imports from the Middle East in 10 years.
      Give a tax break to 95% of Americans.
      ? “If you make under $250,000, you will not see your taxes increase by a single dime. Not your income taxes, not your payroll taxes, not your capital gains taxes. Nothing.”
      ? Dramatically simplify tax filings so that millions of Americans will be able to do their taxes in less than five minutes.

      I don’t expect to agree with Obama on everything but once in a while it would be nice if someone promising to be different than the rest of DC actually followed through.

      1. Anonymous

        What about no earmarks?

        Despite campaign promises to take a machete to lawmakers’ pet projects, President Barack Obama is quietly caving to funding nearly 8,000 of them this year, drawing a stern rebuke Monday from his Republican challenger in last fall’s election.

        Arizona Sen. John McCain said it is “insulting to the American people” for Obama’s budget director to indicate over the weekend that the president will sign a $410 billion spending bill with what Republicans critics say is nearly $5.5 billion in so-called “earmark” projects.

        “So much for the promise of change,” McCain said in this year’s version of what has become his annual tirade against pork-barrel spending.

        1. anon

          1) Broken Campaign Promise – Support of the “Net Neutrality” Bill Preventing interference with the Internet and keeping it out of the Control of Major Media and excessive Government Controls;

          2) Broken Campaign Promise – No Earmarks (Pork-Barreling) in the Budget or any bills;

          3) Broken Campaign Promise -No Lobbyist in the White House;

          4) Breach of the Public Trust – Failure to Demand and Receive a full accounting of the disbursement of the 700 Billion Dollars in Bank Bail Out Money;

      2. J Rae

        OK, so under the spending column has he ended any programs or improved some that we need? He’s done some, but there is so much more.

        Slashing earmarks would take a line item veto so this was a stupid promise to begin with.

        He’s only at 2 3/4 years so he still has 7 1/4 to go to eliminate oil imports.

        He did give 95% of Americans a tax break.

        If you make under $250,000… I think he’s met this promise as well

        Simplify tax filings? Not a chance, he’s just the President of the United States and not a lobbiest.

        1. duggersd

          I am not sure I understand your math. Do you by chance mean 1 1/4 to go? About that tax cut we all got. Do you know any smokers? Yes, they are paying a higher tax, not that that counts, I guess. There is the individual mandate tax that even though it has not been implemented yet, it is on the books. I am no longer able to use health reimbursement payroll deductions to pay for things like aspirin. That $300 is more than any payroll taxes that have been cut. There is now a cap on Flexible Spending Accounts that a lot of people with children with special needs liked. But who cares about them. I could go on, but what BHO has given, he has more than taken away.

          1. J Rae

            So all told, these people are paying more in tax than when he came into office?

            The math was that he has been in office 2 3/4 years and his goal was 10 years…so 7 1/4 years to go on that one.

            So you go through $300 worth of aspirin? Well, the average payroll tax cut was more in the neighborhood of $1000, so he’s still ahead there.

            Sorry that the over the counter stuff isn’t included in the flex plan anymore. So how much do you think that is costing you in new tax? It’s not $300.

  2. feasant

    Obama will say anything to get re-elected. If you think he has been too liberal wait until after the election, then his true liberal colors will shine.

  3. Spencer

    Thankfully, I see that others are as alarmed about the potential of a second term, as I am. Let us think of this scenario: Obama wins reelection, barely, while losing the Senate and leaving the House in GOP hands. What does he do? He declares war on the states and the legal system through legal action against the states, appointing far lefties to everything imaginable, and ramming through as many executive orders as possible. Four years of a lame duck Obama should keep you up at night.

    That being said his chances of reelection are narrowing. His polling is very soft in Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and New Hampshire. He is keeping it close in Ohio, Virginia, and North Carolina (watch these three states; if he falls behind he’s done). Due to changes in the Electoral College, he will not be able to pick off a vote in Nebraska, and the GOP can get to 270 by sweeping the South and winning only one of the following three: Colorado, Nevada, or New Hampshire. In 2000 and 2004, the GOP would have had to sweep the South and win all three.

  4. caheidelberger

    Baloney, Hans. Do you think we’re stupid? I bet you are among the many GOPers who’ve been rooting for and actively working for Obama’s failure from the very start. You’re trying now to spin yourself a false halo of American bipartisan piety and make it sound like all the disunity and political games are all the President’s fault. Don’t play us for fools.

    1. Clay Bill

      I have to agree. Obama had just settled into the White House when you had people like Rush, and McConnell, and no doubt you, Bill, doing everything possible to make sure he would fail and only be a one term president. Never mind the consequences of such reckless actions.

  5. Anonymous

    Everything he campaigned on has been lost. He is more polarizing than Cheney. I will not vote for Obama again.

    This country needs a leader who can stand up to his/her party aswell as the other side.

  6. Elais

    To be sure, many were very much enamored and inspired by Obama to the point where folks believed he could walk on water only to realize he had to plod through the mud like all other presidents.

    I see the same kind of thing forming in GOP, looking for the magical, ‘savior’ candidate who could walk on water for them.


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