Ed Driscoll

The Ultimate Dark Horse

“Nobody is challenging Barack Obama in the Democratic primaries this year–and is doing surprisingly well,” James Taranto writes in his Best of the Web column:

One of the reasons some commentators thought Obama would be a shoo-in for re-election is that like Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, he drew no serious primary opposition as an incumbent president. By contrast, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and Bush père were challenged by Reagan, Ted Kennedy and Pat Buchanan respectively. Lyndon Johnson abandoned his 1968 re-election bid after Eugene McCarthy’s surprisingly strong showing in New Hampshire and Robert F. Kennedy’s late entry.

The theory goes that presidents lose re-election when they have a strong primary opponent and win when they don’t. This requires treating Buchanan as a “serious” opponent, even though he didn’t win a single primary in 1992 and his best showing, in New Hampshire, was 37%.

Writing at RealClearPolitics, the delightfully named Sean Trende reformulates the rule and carries it back a century: “There are only seven sitting presidents who have ever received less than 60 percent of the vote in any primary: Taft in ’12; Coolidge, ’24; Hoover, ’32; LBJ, ’68; Ford ’76; Carter, ’80; and Bush ’92. All of these presidents, with the exception of Coolidge, were not re-elected.” One of Coolidge’s challengers, Robert LaFollette, ran a third-party challenge. He ended up with 16.5% of the nationwide popular vote and carried his home state, Wisconsin.

Actually, there’s an eighth sitting president who received less than 60% in a primary–in more than one, in fact. That would be Obama in ’12, who, as Trende points out, received just 58.4% in Arkansas, 57.9% in Kentucky, 57.1% in Oklahoma and 59.4% in West Virginia. In Kentucky, his main opponent was “Uncommitted,” another name for Nobody.

If the Trende trend is predictive–admittedly, a big if–Obama is much likelier than not to lose in November. “I think we can reasonably begin to view this as a sort of organic primary challenge to Obama,” Trende writes. “Obama’s not likely to lose any states outright in the primaries; think of this more like Buchanan’s run against George H.W. Bush in 1992.”

At Big Journalism, John Nolte adds:

I’m old enough to remember the weeks-long narrative the media created around Pat Buchanan’s 37% showing in New Hampshire against then-President George H.W. Bush in 1992. The media used this result to tag Bush as a loser, an incumbent in trouble and unable to hold on to his base. This was all part of a bigger narrative the media was crafting to peg Bush as out-of-touch. Perot eventually won the election for Bill Clinton, but this certainly didn’t help.

Though today’s media won’t admit it, the difference between 1992 and 2012 is a big one and not good news for Obama.  Buchanan was a legitimate insurgent candidate; after years as a columnist and television commenter, Buchanan was  a known quantity with a serious campaign platform and access to all kinds of media coverage. Meanwhile, Obama is losing a larger percentage of the vote to inmates and relatively unknown attorneys. Moreover, Obama is losing nearly one in five votes to the likes of  “uncommitted.”

In 1992, many Republicans voted for Buchanan. In 2012, a whole lot of Democrats are voting against Barack Obama. The closest the Post comes to acknowledging Obama’s troubles is with this:

Regardless of the reasoning, it’s clear that there is a bloc of Democratic voters in every state who want to register their opposition to Obama. … even a minor abandonment of Obama by self-identified Democrats could make a difference this time around.

It’s pretty obvious that the media is desperate to avoid narratives surrounding Obama’s glaring problems with his base. After all, with the economy going in the wrong direction and all of the very public Bain Capital rebellion (the centerpiece of Obama’s re-election strategy), Obama has enough problems.

As a result, Roger L. Simon asks today, “Is Liberalism Dead?”

They will literally do anything or say anything to maintain control.  They will even contradict everything they stand for to survive.

You can really see this in action at CNN. In February of 2010, the network literally baked a cake (surprisingly, Michelle Obama never scolded them about this high-calorie sugary treat) to celebrate the spending binge of the first year of Obama’s “Stimulus” program. Today they’re simply cooking the books.  Just as they did in 2008 by building the Wright Free Zone, “CNN Fails to Refute Bogus Numbers Claiming ‘Obama Spending Binge Never Happened,'” Newsbusters reports.

Which is why, as Doug Ross writes we can watch in real time as “Old Media Is Bleeding Out Right Before Our Eyes.”