Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A Message to Obama

President Obama, in a telephone interview with The Des Moines Register, said the following today:
What I think most Iowans certainly believe is that if the majority of the American people have said, ‘This is the direction we need to go,’ and the Republicans in Congress say, ‘No, we’re going to go in the exact opposite direction,’ that’s probably not going to leave them to keep that majority too long.
Wishful thinking, sly poking, or spot-on prognostication? Factually speaking, of course, the Republicans only have a majority in the House. The Senate remains under the control of the Democrats. One would have to assume, I guess, that if Obama was really on to something here, the Democratic majority in the Senate would be poised to increase, while the Republican majority in the House would be in serious jeopardy. So let's take a look at how things stand, as of right now.

Currently, there are 241 Republicans in the House and 194 Democrats. RealClearPolitics puts 178 Republican seats and 145 Democratic seats in the "safe" zone, leaving 112 seats theoretically in play. 51 of those seats are in the "lean GOP" or "likely GOP" columns, while 48 are in the "lean Dem" or "likely Dem" columns, leaving 23 toss ups. That means to keep the current advantage and assuming the "leans" and "likely" seats fall as predicted, the GOP needs to win 12 of the toss-up seats. To keep an advantage, period, the GOP needs, well, none of the toss-up races. In fact, it could lose all of the toss-ups and 11 more seats besides and still retain control of the House.

Pardon Mr. President, but it's a pipe dream, the idea that Republicans will lose control of the House in this election cycle. In fact, it's far more likely that the Republicans will increase the size of their majority. Based on the current numbers and the election results from 2010, it seems that a majority of Americans don't agree with Obama's direction, at all. They may not agree with Romney's direction either, but the President doesn't appear to have his finger on their collective pulse in the least. Let's continue, though.

Turning to the Senate, things really aren't much different. Right now there are 47 Republican Senators and 53 Democratic (including two independents who caucus with them) Senators. RealClearPolitics lists 42 Republican and 37 Democratic seats as safe or not up for reelection in this cycle, leaving 21 seats in play, eight of which are labeled toss-ups. The "No Toss-Up" map gives the GOP a +1 seat gain. But note that of the 21 seats in play, 16 are Democratic seats. Right now, the no toss-up map is very close to being the best-case scenario for the Democrats, losing just one seat; the possibility of losing more, even losing control of the Senate, remains. Much will hinge on turnout in these toss-up States and a number of them are not key battleground states at all, meaning local and State elections could influence turn-out, something that is not easy to predict.

Despite Obama's hopeful words, the Democratic Party is currently on pins and needles, when it comes to the Senate. While Obama currently holds a clear advantage in the national polls (which may or may not be real), this doesn't translate into advantages for Senate and House Democrats at all. Many of the later are running campaigns to distance themselves from the President and his policies; the last thing they want is to see the President making a campaign stop in their district.

The point is, Obama isn't operating in the confines of reality with the above comment. There's a sharp divide with regard to "direction" in the country right now; Obama's direction is not that of a large majority--or even of a slight one--at all. And part of the reason for why it's not is the President's refusal to own his actions and the results thereof. In the same interview, he has the audacity to say the following:
When you look at why the debt exploded under my watch, it’s because somebody else ran the tab before I got into office.
On its face, the statement is logically untenable, since the "tab" has grown every year under Obama, partly because of huge expenditures that he championed. But the whole "it was Bush's fault" meme is tired and neglects to note that for half of the Bush years, there was a Democratic Senate. Indeed, for Bush's final two years, there was a Democratic Senate and House.

Regardless, Obama isn't traveling anywhere close to the direction of people who are concerned about the growing national debt and the weak economy. He can pretend he is, but few are buying it. And those people represent a sizable portion of the American public, of the voting public. A Gallup poll from the beginning of this month shows a declining confidence level among Republicans and independents, when it comes to the economy:

And note this lack of confidence by more than half of the electorate coincides with Obama's slight edge in the polls. Thus people know Obama is likely to win a second term, but that's not having a positive impact on their confidence in the economy, at all.

So again, Obama's direction is not that of the majority. His public claim that it is and therefore Republicans in Congress are in jeopardy is a foolish move, in my opinion. It doesn't make him look clever, it's not a particularly effective barb, and it's just not a defensible position. It makes him look clueless and out of touch. And that's what he is.

Cheers, all.

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