Obama’s steep uphill re-election battle (ISRAEL HAYOM OP-ED) Yoram Ettinger 06/08/12)
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Does the June 5, 2012 Republican victory in the Wisconsin
gubernatorial election foreshadow the November 2012 presidential and
Democratic and Republican heavyweights participated in the six-month
campaign, assuming that Wisconsin would have nationwide implications.
Thus, the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, Debbie
Wasserman-Schultz, stated that “Wisconsin is a battleground
state. ... All of the Obama for America and state party resources,
our grass-roots network are fully engaged [in Wisconsin]. ...
[Wisconsin is providing] the dry run that we need for our massive,
significant, dynamic grass-roots presidential campaign.”
The November 1991 Democratic victory in the Pennsylvania special
Senate election paved the road for the November 1992 Democratic
victories in the presidential and congressional election.
The May 1994 Republican victories in the Kentucky and Oklahoma
special House election — winning districts that were long held by
Democrats — presaged the “Republican Revolution” in November,
sweeping the House and the Senate.
The November 2009 and January 2010 Republican victories in the
gubernatorial elections in Virginia, New Jersey and Massachusetts,
provided the tailwind of the unprecedented Republican gains in the
November mid-term election.
So what will the nationwide implications of the June 5, 2012 recall
election be? Here are a few possibilities:
1. The larger-than-expected Republican victory constitutes a boost
for Republican morale nationwide.
2. Public opinion polls underestimated the scope of the Republican
vote in Wisconsin, which was swept by Barack Obama in 2008. Gov.
Scott Walker won in a larger-than-expected majority, outperforming
his 2010 victory.
3. Wisconsin — which Republicans have not carried since 1988 — has
become a full-fledged battleground state.
4. While the Wisconsin electorate does not represent the nationwide
constituency (nor do other battleground states), and the GOP campaign
financing edge in Wisconsin will not be replicated nationwide, the
Wisconsin state-of-mind reflects substantial elements in other
battleground states — Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania — which are
critical for a victory in November.
5. President Obama refrained from active involvement in the Wisconsin
election, anticipating a Republican victory, or assuming that his
declining popularity could hurt Wisconsin Democrats.
6. In view of unfulfilled expectations, one may assume that not all
2008 Obama voters will vote for him in November 2012, while (at
least) all 2008 John McCain voters will vote for Mitt Romney.
7. Independents — who are the most critical group for a November
victory — voted for Gov. Walker in higher-than-expected numbers. In
2008, they facilitated Obama’s victory by all-time-high turnout
8. A decline is expected in the November 2012 turnout, and support of
Obama, by independents, moderates, youth, the blue-collar sector,
small businesses, Catholics, Hispanics, blacks and Jews. In 2008,
they supported Obama in unprecedented turnout and numbers.
9. The vulnerabilities of labor unions were exposed, despite an
unprecedented turnout rate in Wisconsin. Labor unions constitute a
key pillar in Democratic campaigns, especially in the battleground
states of Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
10. The doubling of the price at-the-pump since 2008 burdens Obama’s
chances for re-election, notwithstanding the limited power of a U.S.
president to determine the price of oil.
11. A relatively low level of voters’ optimism, high unemployment,
collapse of home market valuation and opposition to ObamaCare,
constitute major hurdles in Obama’s re-election campaign.
12. The history of U.S. politics suggests that, in most campaigns,
incumbents — rather than challengers — win/lose elections.
Irrespective of the long-term and severe economic crisis, and
regardless of the results of the June 5, 2012 Wisconsin election,
November is still five months away. That is sufficient time for
unexpected developments — including significant blunders by Obama and
Romney — which could determine the outcome of the election either
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