How Obama’s 2012 Victory Made Way For GOP State Gains

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Adrees Latif / REUTERS

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal speaks at the NRA-ILA Leadership Forum at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, on May 3, 2013.

Barack Obama’s decisive electoral victory over a moderate Republican in 2012 has yet to transfer into many lasting gains in statehouses around the country. In fact, the President’s success last year may be coming back to hurt him.

Republican governors lead 11 of the 26 states carried by Obama in November, including John Kasich in Ohio, Rick Scott in Florida, and Scott Walker in Wisconsin. All three are up for reelection next fall, but instead of moving to the center to attract Obama voters, the three governors, along with a host of blue-state Republicans, have moved further to the right.

Kasich and Walker signed laws requiring an ultrasound before abortions this year. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Kasich have undertaken tax reform plans that lowered rates for their states’ wealthiest residents, and Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder signed “right to work” legislation a month after Obama was reelected in his state with strong union support. Indeed, some Democrats are coming to believe that despite their optimistic predictions on election night, in 2012 Obama won the battle, but only prolonged the war.

Speaking on the condition they not be named, more than one Democratic governor at the recent National Governors Association meeting in Wisconsin faulted the President’s 2012 campaign for helping to create the situation, saying it was focused on dismantling Mitt Romney, rather than building support for Democrats’ ideas. And one former Obama campaign policy aide admitted as much, saying it was far easier to brand Romney as out of touch and criticize his economic and social policies than communicate the president’s own. “We did what we had to do to keep Barack Obama in the White House — and we did a really good job of that,” the aide said. “But the campaign wasn’t about making governing easier.”

Indeed, Obama’s campaign had the unintended benefit of propping up the popularity of vulnerable Republican governors — like Kasich and Walker. “In Florida, the fact that the president ran a race talking up the economy, Governor Scott is going to be amplifying that message next year without question,” said Phil Cox, the executive director of the Republican Governors Association. Likewise, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder benefited from Obama’s trumpeting of the recovery of the auto industry, Democrats admitted.

“The good news is our Republican governors are going to be able to run on their positive accomplishments and on their records,” said Jindal, who chairs the Republican Governors Association. “It’s not just going to be about party labels or 30-second ads. It’ll be about four years of job growth, four years of taking on the big problems like pension reform, like education reform, like tax reform.”

Last June, Obama painted a far rosier picture of how this year should have proceeded. “I believe that if we’re successful in this election…the fever may break, because there’s a tradition in the Republican Party of more common sense than that,” he said in Minneapolis. Instead, it’s become a conflagration that threatens to reverse many of the same policies Obama was reelected on. In Washington, House Republicans have ground the president’s legislative agenda to a halt, and next month lawmakers and the White House will re-fight the same fiscal and budgetary battles that have repeatedly brought the nation’s finances to the brink of shutdown.

But nowhere is this more evident than in the states, where Republican governors have taken a sharp rightward turn on social issues in particular. “Republican governors, their first allegiance is to their constituency. It’s not a national constituency,” said Republican Utah Gov. Gary Herbert. “They were elected to be conservatives, and that’s what they’re doing and I think they’re going to be successful as a result.”

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper says the increasing polarization of the electorate on both sides may explain governor’s  moves away from the political center. “People are more frustrated with the other side, and less inclined to listen,” he told TIME. “I’m not sure it’s changing the people who get elected, but it’s certainly putting pressure on them to look back towards their base and be a bit more careful.”

The phenomenon has not gone unnoticed by Democrats, who hope that the rightward shift will help them retake the seats lost in the 2010 tea party wave. “Republican governors, after promising to focus on jobs, state after state after state are more interested in ultrasounds and restricting women’s rights, going after immigrants, labor…gays and lesbians,” said Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin, the chairman of the Democratic Governors Association. “They are more interested in focusing on the conservative Tea Party agenda than they are on job creation, and that’s why we believe we’re going to beat Republican governors in those states.”

39 comments
sacredh
sacredh

Is that the meme now? That Romney was a moderate? Romney willingly embraced every Tea Party position they asked him to. If Romney was a "moderate" republican, then Obama was a center-right democrat.

labman57
labman57

The two most powerful players in the GOP's strategic planning for state and national elections continue to be ... Gerry Mander and Jim Crow II.

PacificSage
PacificSage

Barack Obama’s decisive electoral victory over a moderate Republican in 2012.........

HAHAHAHAHAHA

.......and then I stopped reading.


shepherdwong
shepherdwong

You do realize that this:

“In Florida, the fact that the president ran a race talking up the economy, Governor Scott is going to be amplifying that message next year without question,” said Phil Cox, the executive director of the Republican Governors Association. Likewise, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder benefited from Obama’s trumpeting of the recovery of the auto industry, Democrats admitted."



Directly contradicts this:

"...more than one Democratic governor at the recent National Governors Association meeting in Wisconsin faulted the President’s 2012 campaign for helping to create the situation, saying it was focused on dismantling Mitt Romney, rather than building support for Democrats’ ideas."

Regardless, the fact that a few centrist ideologues (*cough* Ed Rendell *cough*) can't grok the fact that epistemically-closed (and often racist) right-wing idiots are never going support Democratic ideas (especially from President Obama), doesn't exactly make them (or you) look like political or sociological geniuses.


HeatherOMalley
HeatherOMalley

"Speaking on the condition they not be named, more than one Democratic governor at the recent National Governors Association meeting in Wisconsin faulted the President’s 2012 campaign for helping to create the situation, saying it was focused on dismantling Mitt Romney, rather than building support for Democrats’ ideas"

The Democrats 'ideas' will get you Detroit. All they really have to work with is hatred of others who have made successes of themselves, and offering free stuff. 



PeggiD
PeggiD

Re the last paragraph...reveals how those folks who so adamantly claim to value people over "money" actually value the opposite.

JdReader
JdReader

Soon these people are going to move so far to the right, they are going to fall off their Flat Earth.

vanlinez
vanlinez

Guys like the author and the media in general are comfortable with the old political truisms. It gives them a familiar narrative to write their articles around. However, look at the 2012 election. Old school pollsters missed it. Network and cable news missed it. Everyone wanted to apply the old rules. Everyone except Nate Silver anyway. Silver nailed it right down to the electoral vote. I have zero confidence in the predictions in this article. As the old timer pollsters proved in 2012, their methods are outdated and cable news is just entertainment and opinion.

MrBenGhazi
MrBenGhazi

Have to disagree. I've seen first hand how demoralizing the President's 2012 victory was to Republicans. I have a hard time believing they'll show up in enough numbers to make any significant gains in 2014.

grape_crush
grape_crush

> Barack Obama’s decisive electoral victory over a moderate Republican in 2012...

Zeke, when you start off your article with a falsehood - Romney was 'strictly conservative', remember - there's no real reason to take the remainder with any level of seriousness.

> Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder signed “right to work” legislation a month after Obama was reelected in his state with strong union support. 

Do you mean Michigan is a state that has strong union support, or that the legislation had strong union support? Yes on the former, no on the latter. Snyder and the GOPer-led state Congress quickly slipped that in during a lame duck session before next year's state Congress - where it would have had a tougher time passing - started...and after saying previously that he wouldn't pursue that legislation. It took the state's unions by surprise.

> ...faulted the President’s 2012 campaign for helping to create the situation, saying it was focused on dismantling Mitt Romney, rather than building support for Democrats’ ideas.

Note to said Governors: All politics is local. If you're not winning at the state level, you're either not trying hard enough or you're not pushing the right buttons with your constituents. Or the candidates you're putting up - as was Rick Snyder's opponent in 2010 - are unappealing.

Keeping that in mind, it's hard to blame a Democratic President for the failures of state-level Democratic parties, especially in states headed by Democratic governors. These anonymous Democratic governors are likely ones that are in safely blue states and don't actually have to expend much effort to keep things that way.

drudown
drudown

Remember the feigned surprise on Rove's face when Ohio went the other way? Like their proffered strategy of obstruction, they KNOW it will backfire in the fall elections regardless of what they say. 

"Everyone acts according to self-interest." - Gracian

The GOP's cognitive dissonance is a mirror image of the purported "factions" therein: an imageless act of artful mimicry of its former self. The GOP once had a self-perceived edge over the other party in terms of being "fiscally prudent" but the "new" GOP is run exclusively along rigid, lobbyist lines (e.g., "no new taxes, ever"), and no disputing it: such that there is only a shadowy abyss between the vote cast for the GOP elected official and the actual, discretionary judgment that presses down upon GOP policy, regardless of fiscal prudence, or creating misery, as it cuts deep with the feel of something altogether scissory. 

Like a knife all blade, imprudent policy cuts the People's hand that uses it. No amount of professed allegiance to ideology ameliorates this reality, no amount of vehement opposition or words that are simply flowery.

For example, there is no pecuniary or strategic "benefit" to the People for refusing to implement Obamacare, much less not leave the Iraqis or Afghans to fend for themselves like every other godforsaken culture struggling to know itself between Heaven and Earth. Tell me, what is the return (IRR) on our tax investment of the GOP Congress' worth? They literally believe the People don't see through this partisan charade. They serve Corporate masters over the People and there nothing more to say.

But in each instance, the GOP prates on and on about- well, something that more closely resembles a "bleeding heart" conservative...yes, they contend, the opposition uncritically adopted a divergent "ideology". Yes, they continue, we won't acquiesce or tender an apology. Look at the fabricated "scandal" they declare: or what about all those Iraqis that were blown up in a single week? We better "arm and train" their "security forces" for another 10 years- but it's not cheap. 

Even worse than the dreaded "Nanny State Boogeyman"? Spending our tax dollars on "arming and training" citizens not our own, as if, in the end, the speculative "benefit" of a "free and democratic" Iraq is somehow preferable, Mr. Cantor, to the State using the $4 trillion wasted abroad in Iraq on generating JOBS here at home. 

Unbelievable. That is how asinine the voters are if they *choose* to renew the GOP members vise on Congress. You, beloved voter, are literally voting to DIVERT your own tax dollars into the hands of another: to fund wars that enrich a wide array of market players and, not coincidentally, in doing so, like the phony "war on terror", creating some illusory "complication" or "risk" in the availability of Oil in an undisputed declining market as if the actual market is error. The "threat" of "terrorism" was disproven. It is just crime. All that government waste in Homeland Security? GOP fiscal waste. The very "Big Government" the love to hate. We already have the requisite "team": who credibly contend the People don't really, truly want slightly higher taxes on the 1% in order to help better fund our existing Fire/EMT/Police/CIA/FBI/Armed Services- including providing transitions for the latter to potentially serve in some of the former? That is the difference with the GOP: its "no new taxes, ever" is too rigid for the real world. It unduly limits how the State could improve its strategic position and help the People (e.g., via job creation; cheaper access to higher education; better public schools) at the same time. That ruling star dims the future strength of the United States. I see no good in this.

Just this: it is time for the democratic party to boldly challenge the GOP's actual position. It's not enough for the Obama Administration to do it. Writers, Media, celebrities, elected officials and voters need to articulate well in advance of the upcoming elections what is actually at stake: the GOP is anti-government and the 1% wants to rule the US instead by slowly starving the State of revenue and "deregulating" markets via piecemeal legislation (literally) drafted by market players. How is that not a violation of professional duty by our GOP leaders that enable same?

By voting in a democratic majority and actually changing the filibuster procedures on account of the self-evident abuse during this 2nd term, there can be more than this lip service BS to a "voter referendum" but rather, a strong Executive branch transition from here to the next Administration is all that is required. Congress can be reshaped over the successive three elections- and to do so is simple: have the better plan for job creation, renewable energy and deficit reduction coupled with massive federal aid to the Several States...with strings with an eye towards economic growth. The message is so painstaking obvious: if you are a voter and want the State to, inter alia, do what it has done in the past to help the People, to ensure regulations are in place and strengthened for consumer protections, to even ALLOW the possibility of the State providing emergency funds to get Americans presently out-of-work...back into the stream of commerce...  vote in members of the democratic party. 

The GOP has showed its colors and it is "Austerity" black... like ash or polluted skies.

The GOP's ruling elite and its most powerful campaign contributors have been caught in pari delicto by purporting to grant outright "immunity" to market players, have deregulation effectuated in piecemeal, pursue Energy strategies that are unnecessary ("tracking") to harvest until cleaner ways emerge to harvest it and, above all, emasculate the State by a "no new revenue" economic agenda that just transfers power into the 1% hands as a practical matter. Now they even "hire" citizens to act "outraged" at the "change" the GOP keeps "buying" Media articles that naively question if it has, in fact, truly arrived. 

The 1% will always enjoy unbridled influence. I happen to enjoy the finer things in life myself. But I don't like a "no new taxes" policy that WEAKENS the US dollar, Western Civilization and National Security all at once. Perhaps more than ANY vote in History...the next two elections will determine if the People really, truly want to renegotiate the State's performance (i.e., accept far less while paying the same in taxes) for ZERO consideration. The only consideration paid...was from the campaign contributors to the GOP elected officials and their K street puppeteer. 

Just as nothing that has been "done" by the GOP in office cannot be "undone" the following year... no "rights" that have been trampled do not still exist as matter of Natural Law.

It's time for the voters claim back the State they pay for: Congress and all. 

"After the event, even the fool is wise." - Viscount Symonds

deconstructiva
deconstructiva

I disagree with Zeke. Instead of an elaborate Obama-made-way-for-GOP-gains anti-karma conspiracy, try Occam's razor - a Tea Party base across state line is still entrenched (no thanks to the 2010 Koch-backed TP gains AND D's who sat home that year, state-led voting right suppression - which R-friendly SCOTUS has now made worse - Congressional gerrymandering, etc. ). Also, Kasich, Scott, and Walker were NOT up for re-election in 2012, so again, the GOP base remains dug in. Let upcoming elections this year and next show how many 2010 gains will remain intact after current Tea's efforts to suppress non-Archie's rights.

paulejb
paulejb

The IRS beat Romney with its voter suppression campaign against conservatives.

Ohiolib
Ohiolib

Wait, you mean lots of people don't like Obama?!?! I'm shocked, SCHOCKED I say.

ReneDemonteverde
ReneDemonteverde

@sacredh He willingly embraced every conservative position but his record clearly shows he is not. 

jmac
jmac

@sacredh  Obama is a center-right Democrat !       I don't see how anyone could argue he's not center-right on the economy unless you think Warren/Krugman, etc are leaning off a left-wing cliff.  They're not.  They were RIGHT on the economy (as in correct on why we almost went under and what we should do about it).   That's no cliff they're leaning on.    (Any center left president would have let those Bush tax cuts expire - that was a no brainer).   Summers was wrong over and over and Obama's pushing him and a little upset about the push for Yellen (who no one would call a liberal as she edges center left).   

Romney was certainly the moderate in the field that was left on the Republican side.  The other two moderates dropped immediately and Romney played the game.    Yeah for us!    Let's Reince and repeat.        


programmer156
programmer156

@PacificSage Um what are you saying? That Obama didn't have a decisive electoral victory? Obama got 332 electoral votes to Romneys 206 that is a THUMPING!


Also Obama won the popular vote twice (in 2008 aswell) whereas in the last 25 years a Republican President has only achieved the popular vote once. There really is not other way to describe the 2012 election outcome other than decisive. You guys sucked BAD


grape_crush
grape_crush

 @HeatherOMalley > The Democrats 'ideas' will get you Detroit. 

I'll assume that you know very little about what has happened in Detroit outside of what some right-wing news outlet has told you.

> All they really have to work with is hatred of others who have made successes of themselves, and offering free stuff.  

So many things wrong with that statement, it's hard to know where to start fisking. Could you provide some examples of what you are saying, or is parroting right-wing talking points the only argument you're capable of making, 'Heather'?

tommyudo
tommyudo

@SimeonATuoyo 


I don't know if Miller is a Republican, bit it's quite evident that he has become TIME's Gunga Din to the GOP. An exemplary water boy.

cent-fan
cent-fan

@grape_crush Yeah, that whole "building support for Democratic ideas" accusation quote...  Just how is a President running for an office that involves military budgets and international terrorist threats supposed to sell a state electorate on the need for a bus transportation initiative on behalf of some local yokel politicians?  Jeez if they can't even do enough homework to know how to strike the right cord on the local stuff down the street maybe they shouldn't be spending money on a campaign.

Another relevant controversy narrative spun by the Washington Press Corp in the ivory tower.

drudown
drudown

@paulejb 

Tell me, why shouldn't the IRS investigate charities of either partisan shade if there is self-evident political purpose in the "charity's" own name? That's right! They did for BOTH liberal and conservative political groups. 

But isn't that the "play book" from K street? To "fabricate" a scandal involving the IRS in order to create "exigent circumstances" to (what else) "reform" the Tax Code against the People's interests? I fancy.

barneydidit
barneydidit

@Ohiolib Wait....Obama beat a "moderate Republican?" That would be the "moderate Republican" who called himself "severely conservative", then denied ever saying anything like that?  Can't believe he lost...I'm shocked. 

sacredh
sacredh

@jmac, I agree. Obama is a center-right democrat, but us liberals seem to be the only ones that acknowledge it. Obama is NOT one of us. We voted for him because he came closer (by a fairly wide margin) to some of our positions just because the right turned so far right that theycan't recognize the center anymore. They think THEY'RE mainstream just because mainstream doesn't sound extremist to them. Romney only looked "moderate" because the rest of the nut jobs were so far to the right. You could take some real extremist liberals and put me in with them and I'd be the moderate. It's making the comparison that is deceptive.

MrObvious
MrObvious

@drudown @paulejb 

No need to tussle with trollbot. He spent 2011 and 2012 dreaming up all kind of hysterical reasons Obama would lose and now he's using the non IRS scandal to fantasize how Obama won because of IRS 'voter suppression'. Although all groups were approved of their non tax status - none of which stopped any of the tea party groups from being active. And ultimately all including progressive groups were targeted as they should.

The real scandal being of course that NONE of these fully partisan groups on right and left should've been approved. Tax payers should never 'sponsor' fully political groups by giving them tax exempt status.

Anyways - it's pointless to argue with trollbot - he's pretty damaged and he's usually here to rub off he's mental issues on others but spewing stuff like above. His reply to you is the usual dumb slob. 

sacredh
sacredh

"and your wife still deserves a medal"

Funny you should mention that. A friend called while I was out and mentioned something about me deserving to be shot and then hung up. I asked my wife if he cancelled lunch on Saturday. It may have been a photoshopped picture I sent him by email.  

sacredh
sacredh

As a side note, in 2008 she asked me about the ACORN stuff because she wanted to vote more than once. I hated to tell her it was nonsense. My mom. Gotta love her.

sacredh
sacredh

@jmac, my mother fell. She cracked a couple of ribs but is home now. She's 88. And liberal as hell.

jmac
jmac

@sacredh You've left us hanging.  Hope all is well.

And I knew you were being facetious - and your wife still deserves a medal :)

sacredh
sacredh

Gotta go the emergency room. later folks.

drudown
drudown

@MrObvious @drudown @paulejb 

From whence comes this unseasonable notion that the voters should despise their own government of Limited Powers?

The real "scandal" is the brazen breach of Fiduciary Duty by obstructing needed Stimulus for job creation in the present climate and to renew Food Stamps in the living hour.

To even think that "government is the problem, never the solution", renders the notion of eliminating the corruption of the GOP and its Big Business agenda in a single electoral swoop basic restitution. 

drudown
drudown

@MrObvious @drudown @paulejb 

Aside from the sheer volume of capital flowing through these shame conduits, I think what is was is most disconcerting about the IRS "scandal" is that very few members of the Media even asked whether or not the proffered "talking point" of outrage was, in fact, justified. Upon any reasonable construction of History, scandal or no scandal- the IRS' is the de facto proxy for the People to collect taxes. Why, pray tell, are the People not "outraged" that these political groups sought to avoid paying their fair share? 

Just this: the State that grants Corporations their legal fiction is the same Police Power that reigns supreme over United States jurisdiction and only a fool would disavow his own Court.