Being Right: Referendum on Obama



The results of last Tuesday’s election should not surprise anyone. Many pundits had predicted for several weeks that the Democrats would lose the House and retain a major­ity in the Senate. Conventional wisdom would predict that in traditionally Republican House Districts, Republican candidates would probably take back seats lost in the ’06, ’08 election cycle.

It also could’ve told you that Republican Candidates who espoused Tea Party values, and who also had mainstream appeal, like Marco Rubio and Pat Toomey would ultimately win, while candidates with a Tea Party label and no mainstream appeal, like Sharon Angle and Christine O’Donnell would lose.

Although it is to be expected, most disappointing was the failure of good mainstream Republican candidates such as Meg Whitman to make inroads in reliably blue states like California, Connecticut and Washington state despite seemingly competitive races, and vast expenditures of money and resources.

Ultimately, the results of last Tuesday, as Nancy Pelosi admits, came down to the economy and to a lesser extent the Health Care Reform Bill passed earlier this year. Going back to the ’08 Presiden­tial Election, there was a period of time following the Republican National Convention where John McCain and Sarah Palin were actually leading in the polls.

Then the financial cri­sis hit and any chance of Republicans retaining the Presidency evaporated with it.

The American voters did not put the onus on the Democrats, who con­trolled both the Senate and the House since 2006, and in fact voters rewarded them the Presidency and even more commanding majorities in Congress. This time around, with Democrats in posses­sion of both the Presidency and Congress, the voters only had Democrats to blame for the slow economic recovery and the almost double-digit unemployment rate. Undoubtedly the Health Care Bill helped drive Republican enthusiasm and angry Tea Partiers to the polls this year, but the fact that in 1994 Clinton Care failed to pass and Republicans still won both the House and the Senate suggests that the slow economy both then and now had a greater effect on the election results.

Going forward from here, House Republicans need to pass good, substantive leg­islation to preempt the Democrats’ claims that the Republican Party is the “party of no,” regardless of whether or not said legislation passes the Senate and gets President Obama’s signature.

But regardless of what Republicans or Democrats accomplish between now and 2012, the next election will be another referendum on the economy. If the economy stagnates, and unemployment remains high then President Obama and the Democratic Party will take the blame, perhaps wrongly so. Consequentially, the Obama presidency is likely to be a one term one like the Carter and Bush Senior’s presidencies.

If the economy does recover by 2012, President Obama and the Democrats will take the credit, and what House Republicans do from now to 2012 will not be electorally relevant.

In that case you can expect the party in control of the Presidency to retain it like Presi­dent Clinton did in 1996, and Ronald Reagan did in 1984. But if nothing else, Repub­licans should take solace in the fact that the era of “Bush bashing” is over. Blaming the 43rd President for everything from the BP Oil Spill to the Economy is no longer a valid excuse with the American public.