It shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone that the economy continues to be difficult, with the unemployment rate still hanging around 9 percent. In most cases this would be bad news for the incumbents – in this case range from President Barack Obama to the Democratic controlled Senate and Republican controlled House.
But according to almost every poll I have seen, the president maintains roughly 50 percent approval ratings. I would say that comes as good news to the White House with the struggling economy. Clearly a part of that spike came because the president and his team successfully authorized the killing of Osama Bin Laden (which the war hungry neocons failed to do even with four times the time to do it).
Still if I was a White House strategist, I would be preparing for the president to fall back to the 45-45 ratings he had before the raid took place. Let’s face it: this country is still divided between red and blue and the 2012 election could come down to a few swing states (although somewhat different from the Pennsylvania, Florida and Ohio map).
Luckily for Obama, he will be going into 2012 with some political weapons that resulted from the GOP’s terrible month of May.
A lot of the GOP’s terrible May came as a result of Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin’s plan to kill Medicare, which is opposed by a vast majority of the American people. The bill was voted on in the House and Senate and it passed the House with all but four Republicans voting to approve it. The Senate followed suit and 40 of them approved it as well.
In addition, the kill Medicare approach has got Romney running for the hills, Gingrich flip-flopping to the point where he looked completely deranged and the other candidates facing a dilemma of being tea bagged or go against nearly three-quarters of the electorate.
This will play right into the Democratic playbook for 2012. In my view, the Democrats need to make their campaign about Medicare. They need to say Republicans wanted to kill your Medicare… and they need to do that in every single potentially competitive election where incumbent Republican Congressmen and women voted to kill it. That should be likewise in the Senate and likewise for the president against his eventual rival.
The politics really is very simple: grandma and grandpa votes.
In New York’s 26th Congressional District, there are more grandmas and grandpas than in a lot of other districts. This was the same district where there was a special election held in a Republican district that they dominated for a century. The Democrat ran on Medicare and won.
There are only 24 districts left that the Democrats need to win in 2012 to take back the House. About a third of them alone come in Pennsylvania and Florida, which are 2 of the oldest states in America (and are swing states, by the way).
Republicans are in danger of losing all of those seats alone, which would really cut into their deficit in the House. Democrats should be hammering Republicans all across these two states in these potentially competitive districts.
Obama should be doing the same to his eventual opponent in these same two swing states. These two states alone add up to 49 Electoral Votes and might determine if he gets back into the White House.
In addition to the radical plans to kill Medicare, Democrats also have a big political weapon when it comes to running against a lot of radical Republican governors that got elected throughout the swing states in 2010.
A lot of these Republican governors are in the muck right now because of their unpopular right-wing wish list that they’ve passed down the throats of their constituents. In Wisconsin, Governor Scott Walker is at 43 percent approval in a new PPP poll. In Ohio, Governor John Kasich is at 38 percent in approval, according to Quinnipiac. In Michigan, Governor Rick Snyder was last in the low 30s, according to PPP. In Florida, Governor Rick Scott is down to 29 percent, according to Quinnipiac.
If these numbers hold up, Democrats will be able to use those governors as punching bags to make their electoral math work. A lot of these radical governors claim these measures will help create an atmosphere for job growth. So far, that has not happened and as long as that trend continues, Democrats can keep punching to drive up their chances across the board.
A good example of that might be Florida – worth 29 Electoral Votes.
Currently while Scott saw his approval ratings dip, the president saw his numbers rise to 51 percent from 43 percent, an eight point jump. Senator Bill Nelson, a Democrat, also seen his numbers increase. Nelson’s seat will likely be safe in his reelection bid and the president is in much better shape there now, which could help make his electoral math work. Some have argued Florida’s unpopular Republican Party has resulted in the Democrats appearing more favorably.
I don’t think we can say one way or another if this is behind the president’s better numbers. But the strategy of trashing the governors and tying them to other Republicans might be a good tool for Democrats in 2012.
Simply put: Medicare and radical Republican governors.