Democrats' Fatal Error: Benching Obama

Photo: The Obamas on election night, 2012. In 2014, Democrats foolishly benched the first Democrat since FDR to win the White House with a majority of the popular vote twice, but cynically expected the Obama coalition to put them on top. It didn't work.

Photo: The Obamas on election night, 2012. In 2014, Democrats foolishly benched the first Democrat since FDR to win the White House with a majority of the popular vote twice, but cynically expected the Obama coalition to put them on top. It didn't work.

This morning, the Labor Department released unemployment numbers showing the unemployment rate dropping to 5.8% - the lowest in six years - and employers adding 214,000 jobs, while numbers from August and September were revised up significantly. This extends the longest streak of private sector job creation in American history, putting us at 10.6 million additional jobs since the end of the Great Recession. Average job growth in 2014 has so far been nearly 230,000 per month.

Since the full implementation of the Affordable Care Act last year, the number of uninsured adults dropped by 10.3 million - and may have dropped as much as 17 millionin addition to 3 million more children who have insurance because of Obamacare. The uninsured rate has fallen by 5.3 percentage points.

The federal deficit has been cut by two-thirds as a percentage of the gross domestic product, and it has fallen every year Barack Obama has been in office. The American auto industry, along with American manufacturing, has come roaring back. The stock market is getting ready to hit 18,000. At the end of the Bush Great Recession, it was hovering around 6,500.

A madman in the middle east has been disarmed without a single shot being fired. The advancement of the radical Islamic State in Iraq is being beaten back. US is curing ebola cases.

This is the record Democrats could have run on this year, but chose not to. Because like Republicans, they believed that anything with Obama's cooties on it is icky. What in this record is to be ashamed of, to run away from, I will never understand. But perhaps the most disturbing part of the Democrats' strategy was to run away from the President while cynically using him to "turn out the black vote."

Obama and his aides had felt for months that he wasn’t being used enough in the closely contested Senate races that would determine control of the chamber and the shape of his last two years in office.

Schumer didn’t jump at the president’s offer. According to a source familiar with the matter, the New York senator told Obama to ask the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. The DSCC had already suggested Obama do a barrage of robocalls and radio interviews to help turn out black voters. But no visits to battleground states. Obama would have to watch from the White House.

This is both laughable and outrageous. Outrageous, because of the disrespect this attitude displays towards the president. The idea that the President of the United States would be limited to turning out just the black vote would be racist in any context; but I guess the DCCC hoped it wouldn't be because ... you know... Obama is black. They segregated their candidates from Obama, all the while hoping the Obama coalition will put them over the top.

Which brings us to laughable. The President is the unquestioned leader of his political party, and there is simply no possible way to separate his party from him in the minds of voters, and rightly so. Not to mention, as we have demonstrated above, there is nothing to run away from - the Obama record is strong and successful in every conceivable way.

The strategy didn't work out. Turnout was a dithering 34%, and the electorate was heavily white and older. Among those who voted, 64% of the white male vote went to Republicansbecause the demographic that came out was older. The mind-numbingly stupid tactic of counting on the Obama coalition all the while dissing and running away from President Obama didn't bear fruit? You don't say.

The data proves it. Every single Democrat who ran in a competitive Senate race and ran away from President Obama has lost - with the exception of Louisiana's Mary Landrieu, whose race is headed to a runoff and ripe for a pickup by Republicans (in her race, two Republican candidates together got 54% of the vote to her 42%). But the only competitive Senate candidate that welcomed President Obama with open arms - Michigan's Gary Peters - has routed his Republican opponent by 14 points and a half million votes on the same ballot where Republican governor Rick Snyder eeked out a slim victory over the Democratic gubernatorial candidate.

Addicting Info captured the bittersweet moment:

The best – and sadly the only - example of a senate candidate with the courage to actually stand with the president rather than pretend he doesn’t exist is Michigan’s Senate challenger Gary Peters. Far from apologizing for Obama, Peters asked the president to attend a rally and give a speech standing alongside him on the very last week before the polls open. [...]

As the crowd cheered, Peters — a Wayne State graduate — welcomed Obama’s appearance, and stressed the bailout of the auto industry.

“Thank God, our president stood up for American workers,” said Peters, who also pointed out that his election could determine control of the Senate.

President Obama is a good man who has done an incredible amount of good for America. Handed a crumbling house, he has not only stopped the crumbling but renovated us better than ever. But that's not all President Obama is. He is also the most talented campaigner in modern memory, and we have seen evidence of it in 2008 and 2012. Barack Obama is the first Democrat since Franklin Delano Roosevelt to win the White House twice with a majority of the popular vote. Two consecutive electoral landslides, for all the media talk of how "close" those elections were going to be and for all the GOP talk of Mittmentum, should have told the prognosticators at Democratic campaign headquarters everything they needed to know.

Barack Obama's best punches land when everyone takes him for down and out. And everyone took Democrats for down and out this election - which is exactly why we needed the president on the campaign trail. Instead of attempting a foolish escape from the president who has nearly singlehandedly rescued the American economy from a second Great Depression, they needed to invite our best boxer to land the counterpunches we know he is so effective at (it's funny how we forget the "please proceed" moments).

Democrats needed to say: This is MY president, and I am proud to stand with him. A vote for us is a vote for him. Let me help him in Washington - that's why I need your vote. Instead of cynically putting him on the sidelines and on the phones, they needed to put him on stage, stand shoulder-to-shoulder with him, and tell voters that they are proud to be serving with the president who brought America back. They needed to barnstorm their states with the President of the United States in as many rallies as they could.

But they didn't. They curled into a fetal position and berated and hid their party's best asset. By doing that, they failed to make any dent in the Republican perception that a vote against them would be a vote against Barack Obama, all the while failing to convince the Obama coalition that a vote for them would be a vote for the president. And while there is no excuse not to vote, these cowards contributed to the turnout disparity as much as anyone.

What's that? You bet. Yes, I will always have Barack Obama's back. Because his is about the only back worth having in Washington today.



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