EVERYTHING HE TOUCHES: Michael Barone: Obama Will Leave The Dems In Shambles.
Before the election results are in, and keeping in mind that there may be some unpleasant surprises for one party or the other — or both — it’s possible to assess how the Democratic Party has fared under the leadership of President Obama. To summarize the verdict: not so well.
By one metric it has done very badly indeed. When Obama took the oath of office in January 2009, there were 257 Democrats in the House of Representatives. Going into this election there are 201 (including two vacant Democratic seats). . . .
Why has the Democratic Party fared so poorly under Obama’s leadership? I can see two reasons: one ideological, one demographic.
Start with demographics. The Obama coalition, even more than Bill Clinton’s, is based on overwhelming support from constituencies with some conflicting interests. It’s a top and bottom coalition: he carried the very lowest and highest income and education groups, while his support sagged among those in the middle.
His strongest groups are blacks and gentry liberals — the same two groups he gathered together when he got to design his own state Senate district in 2002. Majorities of both groups still support him, but perhaps with diminished enthusiasm. Black crowds unexpectedly started walking out before he finished talking at recent events in Prince George’s County, Md., and Milwaukee.
Moreover, the geographic clustering of blacks and gentry liberals in central cities, sympathetic suburbs and university towns puts the Obama Democrats at a disadvantage in equal-population districts where Republican voters are spread more evenly around.
Meanwhile, the thrill is clearly gone among two groups that backed him heavily in 2008 and 2012, and which will inevitably be larger parts of the electorate in the future: Hispanics and Millennials.
Well, they haven’t exactly prospered under Obama.