Democrats Changed, not America
Pessimists have already written the GOP's obituary at the presidential level. Has the American electorate undergone a fundamental transformation? If not (which is almost certain), the chances of Obama's re-election are exceedingly remote. Only three Democratic presidential candidates garnered greater than 50% of the popular vote in the 20th Century: FDR, LBJ and Carter. Carter only managed 50.1%. Leaving aside the unique circumstances behind FDR's victories and LBJ's sympathy vote after JFK's assassination, Obama's 52.9% victory in 2008 is a modern historical anomaly. Obama won only by fooling most voters. Lincoln explained why this is unlikely to succeed twice.
Post-WWII Democratic presidents have an abysmal re-election record. Truman, LBJ, and Carter were unelectable after one full term. Even George H. W. Bush, after prosecuting a flawless war, was ejected for drifting too far left. America has long been a center-right nation in presidential elections. Only Clinton, aided by Perot's candidacy and a weak Republican opponent, managed a second term, gaining 49.2% of the popular vote. Absent a significant third-party presence this election, Romney will garner most Republican votes plus millions of Democratic refugees seeking political asylum.
Electoral fortunes ebb and flow. Today's heroes are tomorrow's bums. Daley's Chicago machine dragged JFK across the finish line with only 49.7% of the popular vote. LBJ then captured 61.1% in 1964 (11.4% more than JFK), but was unelectable four years later. Humphrey ran instead, but only managed 42.7% as Nixon and George Wallace split the disaffected Democrats. In 1972, Nixon retrieved all of Wallace's voters and added additional Democratic refugees. McGovern only mustered 37.5%. Carter barely squeaked in thanks toWatergate. He finished almost 9% lower in 1980, at 41.0%.
This popular vote analysis is entertaining, but the Electoral College determines presidential elections. Since the war, six candidates captured more than 400 electoral votes, omitting LBJ's fluke. All were Republicans. Nixon and Reagan both exceeded 500 in their second terms. Clinton, the only post-war Democrat to be re-elected, only managed 379. Electoral College results can also be analyzed as the ratio between the totals received by the winners and losers. There have been 23 blowout presidential elections since 1864, when the victor gained over twice the electoral votes of the loser. This last occurred in 2008, when Obama's ratio was 2.1:1. The record was FDR's 65.4:1 in 1936. We are overdue for a blowout of greater than 10:1. Reagan was the last to reach these levels, the only candidate to do so twice. He defeated Carter 10.0:1 and Mondale 40.4:1.
Obama carries substantial new baggage into the 2012 race. Republicans picked up 64 U.S. House seats, six Senators and six governors in 2010. Republicans currently hold 29 governorships and appear on track to capture a record 34 this year. Twenty of the states Obama carried in 2008 (possessing 197 electoral votes) now have Republican governors. Obama certainly has not attracted net new voters in the past four years. His tenuous 2008 coalition coalesced around an ephemeral concept of 'hope'. When hope turned to despair, his voters fled. If only half these 197 votes shift to Romney, Obama loses. Obama's net vote loss will likely be far more substantial. If Florida, Ohio, New Jersey, and Wisconsin recently chose fiscally conservative governors, why would they re-elect a fiscal scoundrel as president?
Meanwhile, back at the House of Representatives, the Democrats' record in recent decades has been equally bleak, peaking at 76.8% of the House in 1936. Ten years later they were at 43.2% as voters rejected the New Deal. Their fortunes improved, and by 1964 Democrats were back to 67.8%, and 67.1% in 1976. Since then, it has been mostly down. Pelosi, Harry Reid, and Barack Obama were sufficient to drive them back down to 44.8% in 2010, the lowest level since 1946. 2010 is the new normal. Republicans will retain control this year, probably substantially enlarging their current 55.2%.
How much is Obama likely to lose by? We can anticipate he will do worse than Carter, the last president bearing the blame-America-first torch. Carter never approached Obama in apologizing for America, coddling our enemies, subverting our allies, dismantling our energy industry, funneling billions to his cronies, undermining the economy, and attacking the very basis of our economic system. We can thus assume a far worse showing than Carter, perhaps even worse than McGovern's 37.5%. If Romney obtains over 400 electoral votes, this would hardly be historically shocking.
Democrats rose to power via an orgy of inflation and debt. Wilson established the Federal Reserve and FDR then defaulted on our obligations by removing the currency's gold backing. No restraints remained, and the Democrats bought their way into power with worthless currency. As inflation transitions to deflation, all their constituencies will be eroded. Public sector unions and the 47% will be squeezed in coming years. Romney vows to slash spending, repeal the too-big-to-fail doctrine (a.k.a. too-Democrat-to-jail) and replace Bernanke, all deflationary actions. Removing Democratic power to shower cash on their constituencies accelerates their demise.The looming debt crisis moves inexorably closer, a neutron bomb insuring the destruction of any Democrats surviving into the future.
Democrats are doomed not only this election, but permanently. Their problems are chronic and will be exacerbated in future decades. These defects go far beyond one dysfunctional president. The entire party departed the center. Lieberman went from vice presidential nominee in 2000 to pariah in 2006 when the inmates seized the asylum. The nation's oldest political party is committing suicide. It is a profound miscalculation to assume Democrats' problems are transitory and revolve around current personalities and economic conditions. These problems are systemic, incapable of reversal. Gore, Kerry, and Obama were from the party's extraterrestrial wing, yet were selected to lead them for the past four elections.
The Democrats' corpse is dying from the head down. First Washington, then the state capitals and finally the cities, the Democrats' core power base. A party led by Obama, Biden, Reid, Pelosi, and Wasserman Schultz has long been brain dead, sustained by the life-support of deficit spending. Brazen corruption is now practiced openly and casually, with little effort at concealment. Democrats have descended to the politics of demonization and division, rather than inclusion, a sure path toward failure.
This election is far more consequential than a contest between two specific candidates. The broad outline of its outcome was knowable in 2008. The center will shift decidedly right and the politics of Marxism and inflation will be soundly rejected by the same core American voters who rejected the chaos of Truman, LBJ, and Carter; who endorsed Eisenhower, Nixon, Reagan, and the Bushes; and who returned Lieberman to the Senate after his party exited the planet. If ever the core American voter had a distinct choice, it is now. This voter has never failed the nation when called upon. This year will prove no exception.