Monday, November 02, 2009

Democrats Set To Lose Two Governorships

It Looks Like the Republican Brand Isn't Dead Afterall - Oh What Short Memories Americans Have

Democrats are set to lose two Governors races this week, and both will be viewed by TV and radio pundits as big victories by Republicans and as a barometer for the political climate a year before the 2010 midterm elections. Democrat Creigh Deeds is trailing far behind Republican challenger Bob McDonnell in the Virginia Governors race. Incumbent Democrat Jon Corzine is also trailing his opponent Chris Christie, although that race is closer. But as it stands, it appears that Corzine is likely headed for defeat.

Both local and national politics are at work in these two races, but I believe national politics and the return of the same failed Democratic Party campaign approaches are playing a bigger role. The American public has started to hold Barack Obama responsible for the current economic situation, even though the pain people are feeling stems from the failings of the Bush Administration. This recession began in December of 2007. Americans believed, mistakenly, that jobs would magically appear on Obama's second day on the job. But of course this was never going to happen. With employment being a lagging economic indicator, it will take several months, and perhaps a couple of years, before employment levels return to what they were before the recession. But Americans, with their "I want everything now" thinking, either aren't willing to wait that long, or they don't understand how long it will take before the economy gets back to normal (if it will reach "normal" anytime soon, and assuming that we know what the new "normal" is going to be).

The Deeds race in Virginia is not that much of a surprise to me. I think this is a case of a State going back to its default political position - Republican. Virginia is a right of center State. And it doesn't help when the candidate is seen as mediocre. But it doesn't mean that Democrats won't win in Virginia again in the near future. The Corzine race is much more interesting. Republicans will see an advance in the northeast as a really big victory.

But clearly the public is beginning to blame Obama for the nations economic problems, despite the fact that he was not responsible for the broader recession which started in 2007 or the 2008 meltdown that came later. They just want to hold someone responsible...and sometimes the Party that is in power gets the backlash, whether they are responsible for current conditions or not. Obama's poll numbers are the worse they have been since he took office. Rasmussen is showing that his negatives are now larger than his positives. See Obama's numbers over time, according to Rasmussen (other polls have been a little more positive). The first thing that I thought was - Americans really have short memories. Not only are they blaming the wrong person and Party for the economic conditions, but they haven't given Obama enough time to mitigate the problem. It is true that his Stimulus Plan didn't perform as advertised, just as I warned it wouldn't back in January...and for the exact reasons I mentioned. I warned that the "Stimulus" was too narrow and did not put enough emphasis on job creation.....that Obama should have went for a broader Roosevelt style approach to help launch sustainable industries, such as Green Industries. This would have created tens of thousands of new & lasting jobs. But he has been in office less than a year. Americans gave Bush a pass for a number of years before turning on him....even re-electing him by a bigger margin than the first time. Bush got a free pass for 5 or 6 years. It wasn't until approximately late 2005, into 2006 that Bush's polling started to invert and fall well below 50%. Why can't Obama get the same courtesy?

Hopefully the economy will begin to turn around by November 2010....and will get significantly better by 2012. But that's only if the U.S. stays out of any new wars, and can find a way to get its debt under control. Unfortunately I don't think Obama has an aggressive plan to control the debt or the yearly deficit.. But the point here is that this is why Obama should not have taken his eye off the ball (fixing the economy). Healthcare Reform has not helped has been more of a distraction. In fact, he has taken a beating in opinion polls over the last few months, because the Healthcare Reform efforts riled up the base of his opposition and left him open to all kinds of political attacks, distortions and propaganda. He has yet to recover from the attacks of July, August and September, even after lies have been debunked. That's because most people only hear the initial lies...they don't hear the debunking. Most Americans are too lazy to pay enough attention to an issue and dig around to separate the truth from the lies (Republicans and their media have this down to a science...they understand this all too well).

Hopefully these Democratic defeats won't be the story of how Democrats will do next year or in 2012. Unfortunately the Democratic Party returned to its same old ways after Obama's election. The complacency set in almost immediately. They still don't seem to understand the importance of controlling their message, and establishing a communications infrastructure (their own media) that would allow them to do so successfully. I often go to The Daily Kos to try to explain this to Democrats, but they fail to get it each time. The result of their return to old practices has meant that Republicans have an edge when it comes to communicating.... what they say doesn't even necessarily have to be true... the point is... they know how to reach people, and stir emotions in such a way (including by way of dog whistle politics) that gets people to react positively to their message... even when the Republican brand isn't so popular.


Liberal Arts Dude said...

I think part of it also has to do with an energized conservative base. Check out this story from Yahoo which describes grassroots conservative activists as having significant effects on various races nationwide. I use the term "conservative" instead of Republican -- the conservatives include many independents as well and altogether, this base is fired up, organized and are increasingly emboldened by recent events. Interestingly, these conservatives don't seem to be beholden to the Republican establishment and are not averse to supporting a viable (albeit conservative) independent candidate.

I agree with you on the complacency of Democrats in the face of this onslaught. After the explosion of insurgent activity by the Netroots earlier this decade within the Democratic Party, Progressives are back to being marginalized within the Establishment. Rather than firing up the base of Progressives, much of the so-called reforms by the administration have gotten mostly lukewarm reactions. Organizing for America, Obama's grassroots, seems to have gone inactive for the most part.

So the conditions of an energized conservative base supported by a vast, media infrastructure coupled with a weakened Progressive base which Establishment Democrats are content to ignore and marginalize (except when it comes time to vote and raise funds) -- I see most Progressives registering their disgust by staying home on key elections instead of voting Democratic in 2010. And that works very well for a fired-up conservative movement and the Republicans who stand to gain.

The Angry Independent said...

You hit the nail on the head LAD.

Robert M said...

In NJ everything is just so f@#$%^ up if the situation was reversed the D would win. All those small governace units based on 2000 to 15000 people dependent on property taxes and an absolute willingness to not share services is a prescription for disaster. So when the economy goes south and their is no state revenue to pass on the property tax rebates your the goat.

"The complacency set in almost immediately. They still don't seem to understand the importance of controlling their message, and establishing a communications infrastructure (their own media) that would allow them to do so successfully.", ROTFLMBAO!!!

It is something the WH won't do and they have the masters of it at their beck and call, the Clinton. To paraphrase, As a member of the Democratic party I am not a member of any organized political party.

I've seen a number of comments on Ploufe today and his book about the campaign. Much of it had to do with the difference between govrning and running a campaign. With fortue the Zeitgeist will reach the WH.

Robert M said...

Liberal group eyes conservatives' connections

Thought this would be of interest to you.

rikyrah said...

I think Corzine is going to win. Christie is a crook; Corzine is a fighter and willing to throw all the mud he had to on Christie.

DEEDS, on the other hand, is a loser wimp. The McDonnell ' thesis' was the gift that should have been wrapped around McDonnell's neck until he choked on it. Deeds pretended like it was nothing.

and, as for NY-23...GO HOFFMAN

Liberal Arts Dude said...

Here's a good post by Democratic strategist Joe Trippi which further illustrates the anti-Establishment mood of the nation at large with voter anger targeting both major parties. Hoffman's strong showing in NY-23 is an example of how this "pox on both your houses" anger is taking effect on an electoral level. I'd like to see a similarly strong showing from a Progressive third party in the 2010 races.

The Angry Independent said...


Did you mean Owens on NY-23? I know you did.... no way in Hell you meant Hoffman. lol That's the GOP Teapartier who Palin endorsed.

But it looks like Owens pulled it off there.... I honestly didn't think he would.

The Angry Independent said...

As for the NJ and VA Governors appears that Corzine and Deeds both went down in defeat as predicted. This is a shame for Dems....

One of my main points here was that when/if the Republicans picked up two Governorships previously held by Dems, that it would be spun by the mostly Conservative leaning media as a blow to Obama. Although I believe local politics and the low turnout probably played a bigger role than I initially realized.... I still think some of this was due to a backlash (or the very beginnings of discontent) towards Obama and the Democrats. Not all of the result was due to that...but definitely some of it had to do with discontent with Democrats and Obama in general.

One poll (I believe put out by ABC) pointed out that approx. 20% of voters were especially motivated by opposition to Obama. While that's not a doesn't have to be. That 20% may have been just enough to steal a victory away from Jon Corzine.

I'm upset with Democrats for their complacency and for still not understanding how to play the game.... and for allowing Republicans to obstruct and water down decent public policy to the point that whatever legislation gets through ends up being ineffective or mediocre in terms of actual results. (stimulus package, now they are working on healthcare). Just to have Republicans turn around and blame the Democrats for passing a bad bill (bills watered down by Republicans). They want to use their initial obstruction as political gain once the policies fall short (which is ultimately what they are trying to do...water down legislation so that it they come away looking good and can say "we told you so").

Dems have to realize that watering down legislation to get Republican votes....or to appease Conservative Dems is a fools game (although that's not to say that all the ideas from Conservatives are bad... just 90% of them).

Conservative Dems have to decide what they stand for. I'm not saying they can't be negotiated with... they just can't be allowed to obstruct.

I'm also annoyed by how the media will try to spin this. Republican mouthpieces will call this a blow to Obama and his clout....and shows how the GOP is bouncing back.

While I do believe this is a slight setback for Obama and the Dems... it isn't necessarily the big blow that the Republicans and the media will claim. But that is how they will spin it. They will overblow this for at least the next two weeks....and that in itself (the bogus media spotlight on it)...could do more damage than the elections themselves.

Fake News will give it wall to wall coverage.

And that tool Michael Steele will be running his mouth on every talk show that will have him on (and that's most of the media networks).

But it isn't too late for Democrats.... they have to do a better job of controlling their message....and they have to work to establish their own media infrastructure (something Progressives have yet to do in any serious way). They just don;t seem to get it. Part of the reason for the current backlash has to do with the pounding that Democrats took from the Right wing media this past July, August and September. Obama recovered slightly.... but the Dems as a whole never really bounced back completely from that. That was a media/PR war...and the Republicans basically eviscerated the Democrats.

But if the Democrats can get a respectable Healthcare bill passed...and begin to turn the economy around in some significant way over the next 11 months or so (which they are still falling short on so far... I wish that had taken the advice of economists who wanted a more aggressive approach...or the kinds of ideas that I posted), then they can make a decent showing in the 2010 midterms...and avoid a slaughter at the polls. If they could just break even in the midterms...that should be seen as big for Democrats. Not likely though... but time will tell.

The Angry Independent said...

One more thought...

I think both Parties will proclaim victory after tonight.

The Republicans will spin the pickup of two Governorships as a big victory for the GOP...and claim that the GOP is back, and that Obama took a big blow (and the Dems would probably do the same if they were in the same position).

And on the other side... Dems will claim a victory for picking up a Congressional seat in New York (NY-23) that was in Republican hands for a long time.

I'm hoping that there were not enough State-wide and Congressional elections tonight to really predict anything for sure.

But I also hope the Dem losses...especially the Corzine loss...will mobilize Progressives.

Even though these were out of season elections that shouldn't tell us much, I still believe Dems should have made a better showing. Just a year after the overwhelming election of a Democrat, and with the Republican brand suffering...the Dems should have been able to do much better.

I also don't buy the 20% of Americans identify as Republicans nonsense. That doesn't reflect reality. We can finally put that to rest. That number just suggests that only 20% are willing to admit they are Republicans. The other 20-25% of Republicans in these surveys are just too embarrassed to admit their Party affiliation. Clearly there are more Republicans out there than some of the survey's suggest.

The GOP is also an energized bunch right now.

Hopefully this will be a wake up call for grassroots Progressives.

Obama and the Dems also have to stop the bleeding in terms of losing independents. Obama & Co. have to figure out what is going on there... but I suspect it has to do with losing the communications/PR battle.

If you look at my Republican media page... I pretty much foretold a lot of this months ago.... how the Right Wing media would spin Obama and his Presidency further down the road; how they would blame him for the economy that George W. Bush left behind; and how they would use propaganda, etc etc etc.

rikyrah said...

you were right about Corzine.

rikyrah said...

yes, I wanted Hoffman to win, because I loathe Blue Dog Democrats. and,I wanted the crazies to be even more emboldened as they go after Charlie Crist in Florida.