Sun Apr 24, 2011 at 08:00 AM PDT 2012: Why President Obama needs to cover his base to win re-election by Steve Singiser for Daily Kos
It is, by now, an article of faith for most folks in the punditocracy that a Democratic President must triangulate to earn re-election. First brought to the public conversation in President Clinton's ultimately successful 1996 re-election bid, the concept is to position oneself as the bridge between two intractable parties/ideologies. Many a column inch has been devoted to alternately insisting that Barack Obama follow the same trail, or praising him when it appears that he is doing precisely that.
You are about to read a rare exception. Perhaps not stunning, coming from a site that calls the progressive blogosphere home. Nevertheless, there is a legitimate, data-driven case that triangulation and tacking to the "center" (or, heaven forbid, the "center-right") will not yield President Obama the electoral dividends he seeks.
Certainly, other factors beyond ideological positioning are of paramount importance. If voters still feel the country is off on the wrong track, and that the economy is stagnant, no amount of framing and posturing is likely to resurrect the President's electoral prospects. On the other hand, if genuine signs of healing and improvement lift the electorate's spirits, the President becomes a betting favorite no matter how the GOP primary plays out.
The bottom line here is that there is reasonable evidence that the risks of alienating or neglecting the base could well outweigh any potential rewards for doing so. This is not 1996, and the data makes it a bit tough to see where any erosion in liberal enthusiasm or support is going to be offset by surging Presidential support from the center or right.
This is a very long dKos diary, and I recommend that you read all of it, since the paragraphs above are the basic argument -- not the detailed data from previous elections, or the four points that back up the basic argument:
1. President Obama needs the election-day turnout in 2012 to be 60-65% moderates and liberals. That would be similar to 2008 (when 66% of voters were moderate or liberal) instead of 2010 (only 58% moderate or liberal).
2. The President's approval numbers among liberals aren't as high as they should be to assure their turnout in 2012. A McClatchy-Marist poll from last week shows him with only a 68% approval rating among liberals. Other polls have shown closer to a 90% approval rating, but this dKos diary points out that it should be closer to 100%.
3. The President is very unlikely to get as many conservative votes in 2012 as he got in 2008.
4. President Obama already has solid support among moderates and doesn't have to tack right for them. Partly because -- and I think the diarist is right about this -- a lot of those self-labeled moderates are in fact liberals in terms of their ideology, but after decades of conservatives turning "liberal" into an epithet, they've started calling themselves moderate instead of liberal. (This would certainly explain why moderates are much closer to liberals than they are to conservatives on many issues.)
All in all, it's an interesting read.
And I hope some at the White House are reading it and considering it.
3. Dems/progressives need him to be re-elected. I don't see anyone to his left who could primary him
successfully and win the general election, and even though I've been very disappointed by President Obama at times, the Republican alternative would be much worse.
And I feel that way more than ever after seeing all the legislation being pushed across the country by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), with its goals of privatizing services and selling off government assets including parks. ALEC's "State Budget Reform Toolkit" recommends doing that at state level, and they're trying to extend that to the local level now, too, going after assets owned by city and county governments.
ALEC is pushing legislation to have states try to claim federal lands by eminent domain. But they won't even need to do that if the GOP can control both houses of Congress and the White House. Then they can have the "yard sale" of federal lands including national parks that they've already started talking about (by the way, that topic was posted before I knew how organized these plans were, and how much ALEC had to do with this).
then a desperate people resort to more primitive forms of regime change and policy setting...since there is no other way to do it.
And that will be Obama's fault. He had the mandate and threw it away. The next revolution will be Obama's war, just like Libya. He coulda been a contender for best President ever. He threw it all away.
10. But eventually, the people you speak of move out of the denial/anger/bargaining phase and into the
Edited on Sun Apr-24-11 04:18 PM by BzaDem
acceptance phase. That is the point of recognition of reality -- that they are not going to get what they want at any point, and their choice is simply how bad they want to make it for themselves. Most 2000 Nader supporters figured this out soon into Bush's presidency, and the remaining few will have plenty of opportunities to wake up.
5. I prefer the Democratic Party before "triangulation".
"I've seen it happen time after time. When the Democratic candidate allows himself to be put on the defensive and starts apologizing for the New Deal and the fair Deal, and says he really doesn't believe in them, he is sure to lose. The people don't want a phony Democrat. If it's a choice between a genuine Republican, and a Republican in Democratic clothing, the people will choose the genuine article, every time; that is, they will take a Republican before they will a phony Democrat, and I don't want any phony Democratic candidates in this campaign."---Democratic President Harry Truman
Centrism....because it is so EASY! You don't have to STAND for ANYTHING, and get to insult those who do!!!!
6. I respectfully disagree. Pres Obama is a genius. As soon as he was elected he tacked to the right.
He has gone out of his way to convince the right of center that he isn't a lefty. For every liberal he risks he is rewarded with 10 right of center (old republicans). He has left no room for a moderate Republican candidate. He has appointed and embraced many of Bush's buddies as well as corporate leaders. This will fair well with the right of center. And even after throwing the left under the bus he stills has 60% of their support, which will go up when the election comes. No liberal is going to let any of the quack-a-doodle Republicans be president. And the right of center (old republicans) aren't going to support any of the current quack-a-doodles.
16. Obama is done.. toast... he has burned his base from top to bottom...
Larry Summers, Robert Gates, Goldman Sachs, Simpson-Bowles, cat food and Drone Missiles on innocent women and children... secret torture, Patriot Act... and arrest of 70-year-old Cancer patients for $5 worth of Marijuana.
Body searching 6-year-olds at airports.. police spying on cell phones... cutting vitamins and formula for WIC... arming Al-Queida in Libya.. (er.. I mean.. freedom fighters..)
20. Let's not let our emotions run away with us. What scenario do you propose to unseat
Edited on Mon Apr-25-11 10:03 PM by rhett o rick
Pres Obama? I understand your concern and dont disagree, but we need to have a plan. In the country we live in you have a choice of Pres Obama or a wack-a-doodle. I dont like it, but tell me what we can do about it.
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