Not long ago Barack Obama, for those who were spellbound by him, had the stylishness of JFK and the historic mission of FDR riding to the nation's rescue. Now it is to Lyndon B. Johnson's unhappy presidency that Democratic strategist Robert Shrum compares the stewardship of Mr. Obama. Johnson, wrote Mr. Shrum in the Week magazine last month, never "sustained an emotional link with the American people" and chose to escalate a war that "forced his abdication as president."
A broken link with the public, and a war in Afghanistan he neither embraces and sells to his party nor abandons—this is a time of puzzlement for President Obama. His fall from political grace has been as swift as his rise a handful of years ago. He had been hot political property in 2006 and, of course, in 2008. But now he will campaign for his party's 2010 candidates from afar, holding fund raisers but not hitting the campaign trail in most of the contested races. Those mass rallies of Obama frenzy are surely of the past.
The vaunted Obama economic stimulus, at $862 billion, has failed. The "progressives" want to double down, and were they to have their way, would have pushed for a bigger stimulus still. But the American people are in open rebellion against an economic strategy of public debt, higher taxes and unending deficits. We're not all Keynesians, it turns out. The panic that propelled Mr. Obama to the presidency has waned. There is deep concern, to be sure. But the Obama strategy has lost the consent of the governed.
Mr. Obama could protest that his swift and sudden fall from grace is no fault of his. He had been a blank slate, and the devotees had projected onto him their hopes and dreams. His victory had not been the triumph of policies he had enunciated in great detail. He had never run anything in his entire life. He had a scant public record, but oddly this worked to his advantage. If he was going to begin the world anew, it was better that he knew little about the machinery of government.
He pronounced on the American condition with stark, unalloyed confidence. He had little if any regard for precedents. He could be forgiven the thought that America's faith in economic freedom had given way and that he had the popular writ to move the nation toward a super-regulated command economy. An "economic emergency" was upon us, and this would be the New New Deal.
There was no hesitation in the monumental changes Mr. Obama had in mind. The logic was Jacobin, the authority deriving from a perceived mandate to recast time-honored practices. It was veritably rule by emergency decrees. If public opinion displayed no enthusiasm for the overhaul of the nation's health-care system, the administration would push on. The public would adjust in due time.
Obama did convincingly win the election two years ago, and there was talk that the last presidential race was a transformative event. We were supposed to have a return to the New Deal Era. At that how appropriate, we were in crisis mode back then.
While crises never have an expiration date, there are those Americans who just aren't happy and it seems they'll take their anxieties to the ballot box later this year. If Obama is the new coming of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, well we may have only one term of that new coming.
Here's another sign of the times. The youth was very enthused by Obama in 2008, but they're not very enthused for the 2010 midterms. Although it seems like the younger voters were never enthused by these midterms at any time!
Will all of those young, enthusiastic Obama voters turn out in 2010? If history is any guide, probably not. Older voters are historically more likely to cast ballots in midterm elections than are voters under the age of 30. And this year, they are already more enthusiastic than younger voters about the coming campaign.Articles via Newsalert & Instapundit!
Those older voters are most likely to say the country is on the wrong track and to disapprove of the way both Congress and President Obama are doing their jobs, according to a New York Times/CBS News poll conducted this summer.
Eight in 10 Americans 45 and older disapprove of the job Congress is doing compared with 6 in 10 of those under age 45. While opinions about Congress differ depending on age, anti-incumbent sentiment cuts across generational lines, with about 8 in 10 Americans saying it is time to give new people a chance to serve.
A CNN poll conducted nationwide in mid-July found older voters were significantly more enthusiastic about voting this year than younger voters. Four in 10 of those aged 65 and older said they were extremely or very enthusiastic about voting in November while just one-quarter of those under 35 years of age said the same.
This is not terribly surprising. A look at historical voting data shows that on the whole, the public is generally always less excited about voting in midterm elections. Voter turnout in midterm elections has consistently hovered around 50 percent for the past three decades, according to the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey. In presidential election years, turnout is significantly higher, ranging from a low of 58 percent (in 1996) to a high of 68 percent (in 1992) among citizens 18 years of age and older. Turnout in 2008 was 64 percent.
Although presidential contests in the recent past have seen massive voter mobilization efforts, these programs are not as visible in off years. And this has had a noticeable effect at the voting booth.
“Habitual voters will show up for every election, and the sort of people that are habitual voters are what political scientists consider to be higher socioeconomic status — they are more educated and they also tend to be older,” said Michael McDonald, a professor of government at George Mason University and an expert in voter statistics.