Democrats Not Realigned by Obama
Monday morning quarterbacks are saying that President Obama’s re-election realigned the Democratic Party and that the Republicans are facing a permanent declining base of support. Not so.
This election was about Facebook against Super PACs.
If you gave President Obama $3 and had a Facebook account, he knew all your friends. (Of course, most of my friends didn’t vote the same way I did.) But, he didn’t realign the White House.
Super PACs, however, did realign the Congress. Millions of dollars of Super PAC spending on negative ads didn’t work on a national level, but it did work at the local level. Apparently, a billion dollars isn’t enough to destroy a candidate at the national level, but few hundred thousand dollars can win a local election where only a few thou- sand votes are at stake.
In the years ahead, Super PAC spending will have a bigger impact than friending. Congress is more likely to remain in Republican hands than the White House is likely to stay in Democratic hands.
The Obama administration has been com- pared to Roosevelt’s and Reagan’s. It’s not. Even though Roosevelt’s coalition was cen- tered on the notion that government was the solution, and Reagan’s coalition ushered in the idea that government was the problem, both administrations made Americans feel that tomorrow would be better than today. Both made Americans feel better in tough times. Today, Americans do not feel so good and this election did not make them feel better.
Though President Obama cemented his legacy as a truly historic figure, his coali- tion of women and minorities will not last three or four decades as did Roosevelt’s and Reagan’s. Reagan and Roosevelt did not rise like a Phoenix out of their coalitions while President Obama is a member of his coalition. Millions of Obama voters – 93% of African Americans and 75% of Hispanics and Asians – felt an affinity to him. He was the first. The next minority nominee will not enjoy the same aura.
Republicans aren’t rethinking who they are, and don’t need to. They can’t even agree on whether their platform was too conserva- tive or whether Romney became too moderate.
Both Roosevelt and Reagan received about 20% more votes – 5 million and 11 million respectively – when they were re- elected. Romney almost the same number of votes as John McCain did four years ago. President Obama got 8 million votes less, the only time in U.S. history when a re-elected president received fewer votes than he did in his original election. That’s not a permanent coalition.
The lesson of this election is that we got exactly what we already had – a divided country, a divided government, and same problems. And we don’t feel much better