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Thursday, October 27, 2016

Republican moderate officeholders from Jon Huntsman version 2.0 — his campaign recently relaunched with a more aggressively independent and even progressive tone — to George Pataki are coming out of the woodwork, trying to gain traction in the 2012 race to unseat Barack Obama, who because of a lagging economy and cynical obstruction in Washington looks more vulnerable than ever. The only problem? Republican primary voters aren’t on board with the plan.

Things are looking fabulous for potential Republican challengers to the president right now. His every effort to stimulate the economy has either failed to keep up with epic unemployment or been blocked in Congress. His approval numbers are reaching all-time lows. Key demographic groups that propelled his 2008 rout of John McCain are souring on him, and though Labor will surely back his reelection, progressives threaten to be too depressed by a failure to change the culture in D.C. to be “fired up and ready to go” when they need to be. As reputed pollster Tom Jensen put it:

Only 48% of Democrats on our most recent national survey said they were ‘very excited’ about voting in 2012. On the survey before that the figure was 49%. Those last two polls are the only times all year the ‘very excited’ number has dipped below 50%.

In 13 polls before August the average level of Democrats ‘very excited’ about voting next year had averaged 57%. It had been as high as 65% and only twice had the number even dipped below 55%.

It had seemed earlier in the year like Democrats had overcome the ‘enthusiasm gap’ that caused so much of their trouble in last year’s elections. But now 54% of Republicans say they’re ‘very excited’ about casting their ballots next year, indicating that the problem may be back.

The debt deal really does appear to have demoralized the base, and the weird thing about it is that this is one issue where if Obama had done what folks on the left wanted him to do, he also would have had the support of independents. The deal has proven to be a complete flop in swing states where we’ve polled it like Colorado, North Carolina, and Ohio. And in every single one of those states a majority of voters overall, as well as a majority of independents, think new taxes are going to be needed to solve the deficit problem.

So why are Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann dominating the field — and the conversation? The Republican establishment is making known it doesn’t want to waste an opportunity to roll back the most progressive presidency in decades. After all, it may not have been clear six months ago that Republicans would have a solid shot to knock out Barack Obama, but it surely is now.

But it’s that very tension we can expect to play out this fall as opinions harden and the Iowa caucuses approach — an establishment desperate to put a credible, sensible challenger forward to take out their enemy, and a Tea Party equally determined not to waste its energy and activism on a Mitt Romney — or even worse, a Jon Huntsman.

Follow Matt Taylor on Twitter @matthewt_ny

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Copyright 2011 The National Memo
  • Ginico

    Obama has the where-with-all to change this course. While he has wasted many opportunities by poor negotiating tactics . . . starting out where he wants to be and them compromising downward, he will have one more opportunity = his speech on job creation. He needs to come out strong and forceful and make known that this is what he wants and he will veto anything that does not include his criteria. In otherwords, he needs to present a “strong” plan to the American people, explain how this will work and then stick to his guns. If he gives us more of the same, he might as well just turn out the lights in the Whitehouse and start packing. He needs to express the fact that we can’t have a strong economy if all of the money is at the top of the ladder and one else has money to spend. This has ALWAYS been the Democratic policy and it has always worked. The right has engineered this movement to the top and Obama needs to make clear that it is unfair to the majority of the people and that it will begin to stop with the dimise of the Bush tax cuts. This is what we need and this is what we must get!

  • edagrupp

    Obama mut come out strong in the September speach – Bush tax cuts for wealthy must be stopped, social security and medicare contributions should be raised on a graduated scale, clearly the wealthy can pay more. Tax on social security receivers should be increased on a graduated scale. Medicare requires revision as to payments to hospitals which are presently charging outrageous sums for service. Tax code as to special (15%) tax rates for stock dividends and for capital gains where held over 12 months, should be revisited and revised possibly eliminated.

  • historyfan

    After all the publicity given to the huge gap between rich and poor (it’s even in the cartoons these days) I think Obama if he fights should be able to change the tax code so that the 2% pay their share for all that they have gained in the last 20 years or more.

  • liberalsdontownmedia

    If I didn’t perform well at my job and right before I know I may get fired…I come and tell my boss “I am going to give you a speech that would make you want to keep me”, I would not only look ridiculous in front of my boss but that may just speed up my job termination. This speech sound like a campaign strategy and americans are not dumb and know exactly what it is. Not a solution but another distraction from reality.

  • historyfan

    Obama has to do more than make a speech. He has to start making the changes he can (without the Congress) and be specific in the things he is asking for. And tough. And get this to the people in as strong a way as possible.

  • kurt.lorentzen

    I don’t know whether poor negotiating tactics are the biggest reason for Obama’s decline in popular status. It’s really exactly what he acuses the Republicans of, namely refusal to give an inch on cutting entitlements. Now that might fall loosely into the category of negotiating, but negotiation is only possible when there is room for compromise. In spite of their demonization regarding the “debt ceiling crisis”, Republicans were ready to negotiate on taxes – may be not as direct increases, but as loophole closures (which would be significant) – in exchange for spending cuts. It’s much easier to demonize the group that’s (A) trying to take things away from current entitlement recipients than it is those who’s policies (B) take away from future “thought-they-had-entitlements-coming” folks. But in the long run, “B” is the more dangerous course. But Republicans have to have a candidate who can satisfy the “tea party” because they represent a growing number of working-class and business-owning Americans who are the real ones that will be sacrificing if current spending practices continue. Moderate (mainstream) Republicans will vote for the party nominee in all but an insignificant number of cases. But if a Republican President is elected I’m sure there will be no failure to disappoint – just as people have lost their giddiness for Obama.

  • joyce

    Obama needs to come out swinging and stand by the courage of his convictions…threaten to veto any legislation that is not a balanced approach. He needs to detail his plan for jobs and be specific with the American people. Medicare needs to bargain with the pharmaceuticals to lower prices for seniors’ drugs, just as the Veterans have for decades. Obama is the president, he has the power. Lobbyists have controlled Washington for too long. Obama needs to tell the pharmaceutical lobbysists to go home.

  • Ginico

    Where in the world did you read that Republicans were ready to negotiate on taxes . . . they had opportunities but walked away! Just as they have done on everything else – healthcare, they participated in committees until they had all of the revisions they wanted, then they walked away. This has happened over and over during the last two and 1/2 years.

  • kurt.lorentzen

    Republicans successfully negotiated for “everything they wanted” except the main thing – a mere $100 Billion in spending cuts (that’s about a 3% cut – not at all unreasonable and still a far cry from a balanced budget). As it was, they ended up getting 1/5 of that, amounting to near nothing when put into perspective (6/10 of 1%) and with no guarntees that more programs will be immediately initiated to re-capture what was “lost”. I’m no apologist for Republicans, but when it comes to spending Democrats have either lost their minds or have their heads buried so far they have no concept of financial reality. Obama and the Dems relinquished only the bare minimum they had to, utilizing the impending doom of default exactly as the Republicans did. Both share equal blame. The only difference is that on this one, the Republicans have it right.