When Barack Obama was elected President of the United States in November 2008 I assumed that this was the beginning of an eight year reign of the Democrats in the White House. It was a fair thought, at the time. In 2008 Obama was elected in a virtual landslide. He won by a 7% margin, and 365 electoral votes, and won every swing state but Missouri.
What a difference 18 months makes. Since being sworn in the Obama presidency seems to have only hit disaster after disaster – literal or political. The stimulus package passed in early days, and T.A.R.P. which was proposed by the Bush administration, but backed by candidate Obama, which was largely seen as necessary at the time has grown toxically unpopular. The word bailout has become a virtual curse word in the American political lexicon.
Things have only gotten worse. The pledge to hold unemployment to 8% was broken nearly as soon as it happened, which is beyond the control of any political leader. Then there was the debacle involved in passing health care reform. It took a year to pass and left America divided and angry, spurring on the Tea Party movement while disappointing the leftists.
Obama’s approval rating hasn’t been above 50% since November 2009. The most recent polls show more of the American public disapprove rather than approve of President Obama. Political watchers always note when the popularity of a politician drop below 50%. The reason is because in a two-party system if you are below 50% you are far less likely to win. Any win requires 50% + 1 between two candidates.
Now that Obama has consistently sat below 50% and there is a great deal of opposition has congealed. As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, it appears the Democrats will lose control of the House of Representatives, and perhaps even the Senate. How likely is any of Obama’s policies to pass with Republicans in control of Congress? The label as “The Party of No” seems fitting. Anti-Obama sentiment is strong in the country, and particularly in the Tea and Republican Parties.
Predicting the November 2012 presidential election in July 2010 is completely out of the question. However, the idea that Obama’s re-election is assured is gravely in doubt. It is now more conceivable that 2012 will look like 2004, a highly divisive and contentious election with a comparatively narrow margin for the incumbent, Obama, to return to office.
Obama’s saving grace is that the presidential election is not a referendum, but a choice, and the Republicans will have to find a man or woman with enough appeal, experience and political savvy to knock off the Obama machine.