The November 2009 Republican victory has exacerbated Democratic anxiety about the November 2010 election for all 435 House seats, 36 Senate seats and 36 governorships. The GOP success constitutes a severe warning sign to President Obama, who worked tirelessly on behalf of the losers in the New Jersey and Virginia gubernatorial races.
From a Coattail President in 2008, Obama is transforming into an Anchor-Chained President in 2009. Obama has taken a steep dive in the polls, from 65% approval in January to 48% in November – the sharpest deterioration since President Ford’s pardon of Nixon. Obama’s strong nucleus of support has shrunk from 44% to 29%, while his strong nucleus of opposition has expanded from 14% to 41%. Obama could become a lame duck president faster than his predecessors at the White House.
The outcome of the November election is, also, relevant to US-Israel relations and should cause reassessment in Jerusalem.
In 1993, the GOP won the New Jersey and Virginia gubernatorial races and sailed to a sweeping victory in the 1994 House and Senate races. In 1991, then Majority Leader George Mitchell realized the nation-wide implications of the special election to the Pennsylvania Senate seat. Therefore, he urged his colleagues to actively support the Democratic candidate, Harris Wofford, against Republican Richard Thornburgh, who was actively supported by President Bush. Wofford’s victory highlighted the vulnerability of the Republican Party and President Bush, paving the road to the 1992 victory in the presidential, congressional and gubernatorial races.
The 2009 Republican victories in New Jersey – a classic Blue State – and in Virginia – which has recently trended Blue – could be a bellwether toward the 2010 November election. They highlight the Center-Right nature of the American electorate and reflect the 2:1 balance between conservatives and liberals, which explains the frequent failure to implement liberal policies in the US. However, just like Obama, the defeated New Jersey Governor, John Corzine, was perceived as a tax and spend liberal. On the other hand, the Republican winner in Viriginia, Bob McDonnell, repudiated Obama’s economic and health policies and scored a landslide victory. Public opinion polls suggest that American voters consider Obama and the Democratic leadership on Capitol Hill to be too liberal. Therefore, notwithstanding the non-popular Republican leadership, recent polls show that most voters trust Republicans more on national security, as well as on the traditional Democratic turf of health, education, social security, taxes, economy, abortion, migration and government ethics.
The results of the November 2009 election have exposed the cracks in Obama’s image of invincibility and Obama’s coalition, which swept him and the Democrats to the 2008 victory. The independents – who account for 1/3 of the electorate and determine the outcome of political races – voted for Obama when he ran as a centrist consensus builder in 2008. They abandoned his candidates in 2009 due to his liberal governance. Young voters turned out in heavy volume in 2008, assuming that Obama was a different politician. However, their turnout was very slim in 2009, when they realized that the Democratic-controlled government conducts politics as usual.
November 2009 has adrenalized GOP veins, as far as attracting better candidates and accelerating the flow of contributions. On the other hand, Democratic candidates and incumbents – especially those representing moderate and conservative districts and States – do not allow Democratic victories in NY’s 23rd and CA’s 10th Districts to cloud their anxiety. They are restless as a result of the devastatingly low approval rating of the Democratically-controlled Congress. They are intimidated by a potential constituents’ backlash for their support of Obama’s policies. They are concerned about the burst of Obama’s invincibility bubble and about Obama’s potential transformation from a political asset to an electoral liability.
As Obama’s charisma dissipates, so does the enthusiasm of Democrats on Capitol Hill to facilitate implementation of Obama’s policies. They would be especially hesitant/reluctant to enable the imposition of pressure on Israel, which enjoys deep support among most constituents and legislators.
Does Jerusalem get the message?!