Bill Scher writes over at Real Clear Politics that liberal panic over the recent elections (as well as two disastrous midterm elections — and every other down-ballot election since Obama was elected) is overdone. He writes:
Democrats are not in trouble heading into 2016 — far from it. What has been happening is merely a particularly dramatic example of what bedevils most presidents: midterm elections.
Every U.S. president who served two full terms since 1952 has watched his party lose at least one house of Congress during a midterm. George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, unlike Obama, suffered the shock of both houses flipping in a single election.
Pendulum swings are also the norm in state-level races. Democrats picked up eight governors’ mansions during Ronald Reagan’s first term, for a total of 35. After the off-year elections in Bill Clinton’s first term, it was the Republicans who had 31. Then Democrats took back the gubernatorial majority after Bush’s second midterm.
The same is true for state legislative races. The Democrats lost 524 seats under Bill Clinton, creating an even split of the more than 7,000 posts between the two major parties. Then Republicans lost 324 seats by the end of Bush presidency, giving Democrats the edge. Under Obama, the tables have turned yet again.
Fair enough and he may be right that the panic is overblown. Still, I think Scher is minimizing the extent of the damage somewhat. The Democrats have moved wildly to the left under Obama, creating a gravitational pull Democratic presidential candidates will have a hard time breaking out of. Most experts I’ve talked to say that the Democrats won’t take back the House for the rest of the decade, at least. That loss is almost entirely attributable to ObamaCare, which stubbornly refuses to be popular, even years after implementation. I also think Scher underestimates the degree to which the Obama legacy, particularly on foreign policy and the economy, will be a burden for the Democratic nominee in 2016. Obama is popular with the base of the Democratic Party, but he’s an albatross for independents and, of course, Republicans. A better politician than Hillary Clinton could finesse her way out of this bind. But I doubt Hillary Clinton is up to the job.
But what I really wanted to note is how much Scher’s reasonable, if not necessarily persuasive, essay represents a massive let down from the expectations the left had for Obama. Scher writes:
The RNC establishment might yet snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.