—Selena Zito, Atlantic
“when poor Bill Clinton piped up at strategy sessions and wondered why Hillary’s campaign wasn’t trying to appeal to [working class whites], he was treated as an embarrassing relic, out of touch with the inexorable tide of the future.”
—Rich Lowry, New York Post
Who knew Obama’s presidency would turn out like Dwight Eisenhower’s, not Franklin Roosevelt’s? The personalities of Ike and Obama — radically different. Ike got along with Democrats; Obama only with Democrats. But their failure to turn personal triumphs into either party victories or wins for their successors — remarkably parallel.
The White House
This blog found in 2010 what has become conventional wisdom; it argued Democrats, at least in presidential years, were building an unassailable demographic majority of unmarried females, racial and ethnic minorities, and youth. But this year contrary to conventional wisdom, Sean Trende in “RealClearPolitics” showed us that:
Donald Trump. . . captured 71% of the two-party vote among whites without college degrees, eclipsing Ronald Reagan’s record-setting mark of 66% in 1984. To put that in perspective, Trump received a larger vote share from whites without college degrees than Hillary Clinton received from Hispanics. Whites without college degrees also happened to cast three times as many votes as Hispanics (and probably more, since people lie about their level of education). To top it off, he performed better among Hispanics and African-Americans than Mitt Romney had four years earlier.
|Blue: Clinton; Red: Trump, from Washington Post|
[since] 2002, African-American [turnout] rates have always lagged Republican rates by around 5%, give or take. This was true in 2010 as well as 2014. The exceptions were 2008 and 2012, when [with Obama topping the ballot,] African-American turnout rates exceeded white rates.
the Hispanic share of the electorate has actually increased glacially. It was 8% of the electorate in 2004, 9% in 2008, 10% in 2012, and 11% in 2016. The fact that Hispanics are increasingly adopting a “white” identity (“racial attrition”) may blunt this growth in the future.
In 2004, white evangelicals were 23% of the electorate, and they cast 78% of their vote for fellow evangelical George W. Bush. In 2012, they were 26% of the electorate, and gave Mormon Mitt Romney 78% of the vote. In 2016, Donald J. Trump, a thrice-married man who bragged about sleeping with married women . . . won 81% of their vote[, and evangelicals] were once again 26% of the electorate.
Jay Cost, in the conservative Weekly Standard, sums up Obama’s lack of coat tails in congressional elections:
When President Obama took office in 2009, Democrats claimed 257 House seats, 60 Senate seats (after Arlen Specter switched sides), 28 governorships, and total control of 27 state legislatures. Many pundits figured that the Republican party was turning into nothing more than a regional coalition, with little strength outside the South.
|Red: Republicans; Blue: Democrats. 2008-15, @ Washington Post|
John Podhoretz and Noah C. Rothman, writing in the conservative Commentary, marked the decline of Democratic congressional strength from midterm to midterm:
In the 2006 midterms, when an anti-GOP wave began, Democratic candidates for the House received a national total of 42.3 million votes. In the next midterm election, 2010, they received 38.9 million votes, a decline of 9%. In 2014, they were down to 35.6 million votes, a 10% decline from the 2010 midterms. In all, Democrats have gained a total of two seats back from their 2010 low. That means they have suffered a net loss of 61 Democratic elected officials from the House of Representatives in the Obama era.
According to the bipartisan National Conference of State Legislatures, GOP control over state legislatures is “more than at any other time in the history of the Republican Party,” now holding “more total seats, well over 4,100 of the 7,383, than they have since 1920.”
Podhoretz and Rothman detail the Democrats’ state level wipe-out:
There are some 8,000 elected officials in the United States at the state and federal levels. Between 2009, when Barack Obama took office, and today, as he prepares to retire from it, more than 1,100 Democratic elected officials lost their jobs to Republicans. That number is unprecedented.
Barack Obama entered the White House with his party in control of 62 of the nation’s 99 legislative chambers. By January 2015, Republicans were in control of 68. He then made it a personal mission to help reverse the damage that had caused the ejection of nearly a thousand Democratic state legislators from their seats by voters. He made 150 down-ballot endorsements in 2016 and even hit the trail for a few of them at a time when his personal approval rating was above 50%.
The result of the president’s direct intercession? The Democrats did worse. On Election Night in 2016, Republicans took full control of the legislatures in Minnesota and Iowa. The Democratic Party’s sole remaining legislative majority in the South, in Kentucky, fell to the GOP for the first time in nearly 100 years. In North Carolina, the GOP held onto veto-proof majorities in state legislatures despite the statewide loss of an unpopular Republican governor. The GOP prevented Democrats from retaking the state Senate in New York.
Red: Republicans; Blue: Democrats, @ Washington Post
Democrats held 31 governorships in 2009. Now they hold 17, having been kicked out of the mansions in Missouri, Vermont, and New Hampshire. Following this year’s election, Republicans have control of all levers of government in 25 states.
Red: Republicans; Blue: Democrats. 2008-15, @ Washington Post
Sums up Kevin Williamson, in the conservative National Review:
the majority of Americans live in states in which there are Republican trifectas [governor plus both legislative houses] or veto-proof legislative majorities. [emphasis added]