The Wrong Track Election

One of the more difficult challenges an incumbent can face is a voting public that thinks the country is on the wrong track. Currently, according to the latest Harris Interactive Poll, two-thirds of Americans (66 percent) believe that America is on the wrong track, and 67 percent blame President Obama and the Democrats in Congress. While it comes as no surprise that the Harris poll shows 90 percent of Republicans giving the president negative ratings, fully one-third of Democrats and one-third of liberals also give the president negative ratings, as do 70 percent of independents and 60 percent of moderates. The bad news extends across the board -- the president doesn't get even 50 percent on any of the various measurements of approval.

Explaining the national mood and reaction to the president's "divisive and doctrinaire performance," Jeff Jacoby of the Boston Globe wrote,

The hills are alive with the sound of liberal Democratic contempt for the electorate. So are the valleys, the prairies, and the coasts. For months, voters have been signaling their discontent with the president, his party, and their priorities; tomorrow, they appear poised to deliver a stinging rebuke. Yet rather than address the voters' concerns with seriousness and respect, too many Democrats and their allies on the left have chosen instead to slur those voters as stupid, extremist, or too scared to think straight.

Poll after poll indicates that incumbents will be hurting tomorrow, and the overwhelming sense of pundits and commentators is that the GOP will benefit from voter disgust with "politics as usual." Ed Koch, former mayor of New York City, sees "mounting anger around the country" and "deep, deep disappointment" in President Obama's policies -- enough to sweep Republicans to a "victory of tsunami proportions on November second." In contrast to most speculation that is cautious about predicting a GOP takeover of the Senate, Koch predicts that Republicans will end up controlling the Senate as well as the House.

According to Powerline, veteran pollster Charlie Cook predicts an "over-under" (essentially the median predicted gain) of eight seats for the GOP in the Senate and a "wave" of gains in the House topping the 52-seat gain in 1994. Mark Penn, in a poll conducted for the Hill newspaper, echoed the Cook prediction of 52 seats and went one higher: "The Hill's data confirm other public polling and expert predictions, some of which put the historic wave even higher than the 52 seats Democrats lost in 1994 and the 71 they lost in 1938." David Brooks, in the New York Times, wrote, "Democrats have paid little attention to the crucial group in this election - the independent moderates who supported President Obama in 2008 but flocked away during the health care summer of 2009 and now support the GOP by landslide proportions."

With evident sarcasm, Brooks added, "Some low-minded people could look at events this year and tell a dull, prosaic story. They would say that parties that promote unpopular policies tend to get punished at election time, These grubby-minded people would point out that Democratic House members who voted against health care are doing well in their re-election bids, while those who voted for it are getting clobbered." Nowhere are the defeats more dramatic than those of the Stupak gang, those members who turned their backs on the pro-life cause at a crucial point in the health care reform battle.

The national mood is clearly opposed to the radical policies of the Obama administration. The president went into overdrive, adopting his campaign mode to tell the nation that they are "not thinking clearly;" that their perception of things is distorted because "the country is scared."

Vice President Biden, in his inimitable style of grand hyperbole, defended the administration's agenda by arguing disingenuously that "every single great idea" of the past two hundred years was a result of "government vision and government incentive." The president claims to believe that his problems result from not telling the American public enough about the reasons for his policies -- never mind his constant daily presence in the media. The owner of a charter yacht company in Palm Beach has seen and heard enough from the president; he told a reporter, "Tell the president to go to work and get off the TV."

The president's liberal buddies at the New York Times, Paul Krugman in particular, are still blaming Bush and claiming that the president's failure rests in "not making the stimulus even bigger" and not making the "big government" takeover even more widespread. The "blame Bush" crowd's rhetoric continues to shift blame from Obama to Bush, but -- two years into the Obama presidency, and four years since Pelosi and Reid took control of the House and Senate -- the public is not buying it.

Obama swept into office as the reincarnation of FDR, a personage who is long gone; all the luster of a conquering hero was eroded in short order. The man whose charisma and persuasive abilities drew record votes from youth and minorities simply blew it -- even while he presided over an entrenched liberal power base on the Hill (whose approval ratings are even more dismal than the president's). The president's cool demeanor became oblivious detachment from the political climate; his oratorical skills degenerated into wooden reading of the teleprompter screens; his "yes we can" attitude devolved into tribalism and race-baiting. Everything that the "progressives" thought they had "won" is turning out to be like sandcastles crumbling before an onrushing tide of voter anger. Even worse, the administration and congressional leaders are responsible for the mountain of debt that our great-grandchildren will still be trying to pay off; the public is showing that they feel the sacrifice of individual freedom inherent in ObamaCare is too great a price to pay. Democrats have clearly overreached in their frantic push to expand government control over the private sector.

Who could have predicted at the outset of the Obama administration -- when the president rivaled John F. Kennedy in popularity -- that the midterm elections would find the Republicans favored for massive wins, despite voter misgivings about them? Even more astonishing, who would have believed that Democrats and independents would be distancing themselves from the president whose promise of national transformation would shackle our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren with multiple trillions of dollars in debt from radical policies, reckless spending, and out-of-control government expansion -- the extent of which most of us still cannot comprehend? Dale Peterson, a former candidate for the Alabama Agriculture Commission, summed up the situation in a speech to college students, saying, "It's not about Senate or congressional races; it's about whether or not [the nation is] going to survive."

Janice Shaw Crouse, Ph.D., author of Children at Risk (Transaction, 2010), is Senior Fellow at the Beverly LaHaye Institute, Concerned Women for America's think-tank.
One of the more difficult challenges an incumbent can face is a voting public that thinks the country is on the wrong track. Currently, according to the latest Harris Interactive Poll, two-thirds of Americans (66 percent) believe that America is on the wrong track, and 67 percent blame President Obama and the Democrats in Congress. While it comes as no surprise that the Harris poll shows 90 percent of Republicans giving the president negative ratings, fully one-third of Democrats and one-third of liberals also give the president negative ratings, as do 70 percent of independents and 60 percent of moderates. The bad news extends across the board -- the president doesn't get even 50 percent on any of the various measurements of approval.

Explaining the national mood and reaction to the president's "divisive and doctrinaire performance," Jeff Jacoby of the Boston Globe wrote,

The hills are alive with the sound of liberal Democratic contempt for the electorate. So are the valleys, the prairies, and the coasts. For months, voters have been signaling their discontent with the president, his party, and their priorities; tomorrow, they appear poised to deliver a stinging rebuke. Yet rather than address the voters' concerns with seriousness and respect, too many Democrats and their allies on the left have chosen instead to slur those voters as stupid, extremist, or too scared to think straight.

Poll after poll indicates that incumbents will be hurting tomorrow, and the overwhelming sense of pundits and commentators is that the GOP will benefit from voter disgust with "politics as usual." Ed Koch, former mayor of New York City, sees "mounting anger around the country" and "deep, deep disappointment" in President Obama's policies -- enough to sweep Republicans to a "victory of tsunami proportions on November second." In contrast to most speculation that is cautious about predicting a GOP takeover of the Senate, Koch predicts that Republicans will end up controlling the Senate as well as the House.

According to Powerline, veteran pollster Charlie Cook predicts an "over-under" (essentially the median predicted gain) of eight seats for the GOP in the Senate and a "wave" of gains in the House topping the 52-seat gain in 1994. Mark Penn, in a poll conducted for the Hill newspaper, echoed the Cook prediction of 52 seats and went one higher: "The Hill's data confirm other public polling and expert predictions, some of which put the historic wave even higher than the 52 seats Democrats lost in 1994 and the 71 they lost in 1938." David Brooks, in the New York Times, wrote, "Democrats have paid little attention to the crucial group in this election - the independent moderates who supported President Obama in 2008 but flocked away during the health care summer of 2009 and now support the GOP by landslide proportions."

With evident sarcasm, Brooks added, "Some low-minded people could look at events this year and tell a dull, prosaic story. They would say that parties that promote unpopular policies tend to get punished at election time, These grubby-minded people would point out that Democratic House members who voted against health care are doing well in their re-election bids, while those who voted for it are getting clobbered." Nowhere are the defeats more dramatic than those of the Stupak gang, those members who turned their backs on the pro-life cause at a crucial point in the health care reform battle.

The national mood is clearly opposed to the radical policies of the Obama administration. The president went into overdrive, adopting his campaign mode to tell the nation that they are "not thinking clearly;" that their perception of things is distorted because "the country is scared."

Vice President Biden, in his inimitable style of grand hyperbole, defended the administration's agenda by arguing disingenuously that "every single great idea" of the past two hundred years was a result of "government vision and government incentive." The president claims to believe that his problems result from not telling the American public enough about the reasons for his policies -- never mind his constant daily presence in the media. The owner of a charter yacht company in Palm Beach has seen and heard enough from the president; he told a reporter, "Tell the president to go to work and get off the TV."

The president's liberal buddies at the New York Times, Paul Krugman in particular, are still blaming Bush and claiming that the president's failure rests in "not making the stimulus even bigger" and not making the "big government" takeover even more widespread. The "blame Bush" crowd's rhetoric continues to shift blame from Obama to Bush, but -- two years into the Obama presidency, and four years since Pelosi and Reid took control of the House and Senate -- the public is not buying it.

Obama swept into office as the reincarnation of FDR, a personage who is long gone; all the luster of a conquering hero was eroded in short order. The man whose charisma and persuasive abilities drew record votes from youth and minorities simply blew it -- even while he presided over an entrenched liberal power base on the Hill (whose approval ratings are even more dismal than the president's). The president's cool demeanor became oblivious detachment from the political climate; his oratorical skills degenerated into wooden reading of the teleprompter screens; his "yes we can" attitude devolved into tribalism and race-baiting. Everything that the "progressives" thought they had "won" is turning out to be like sandcastles crumbling before an onrushing tide of voter anger. Even worse, the administration and congressional leaders are responsible for the mountain of debt that our great-grandchildren will still be trying to pay off; the public is showing that they feel the sacrifice of individual freedom inherent in ObamaCare is too great a price to pay. Democrats have clearly overreached in their frantic push to expand government control over the private sector.

Who could have predicted at the outset of the Obama administration -- when the president rivaled John F. Kennedy in popularity -- that the midterm elections would find the Republicans favored for massive wins, despite voter misgivings about them? Even more astonishing, who would have believed that Democrats and independents would be distancing themselves from the president whose promise of national transformation would shackle our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren with multiple trillions of dollars in debt from radical policies, reckless spending, and out-of-control government expansion -- the extent of which most of us still cannot comprehend? Dale Peterson, a former candidate for the Alabama Agriculture Commission, summed up the situation in a speech to college students, saying, "It's not about Senate or congressional races; it's about whether or not [the nation is] going to survive."

Janice Shaw Crouse, Ph.D., author of Children at Risk (Transaction, 2010), is Senior Fellow at the Beverly LaHaye Institute, Concerned Women for America's think-tank.