In any contest - a basketball game, a business deal, a military battle, a political campaign - it is occasionally useful to reflect on how things must look from the other guy's point of view. In politics one has to work through the puff pieces, the propaganda, and the confusing mounds of data and opinion, but it is still useful to think about President Obama's coalition - who they are; what they wanted; what they are getting; how they must feel about the reward for their support. Let's look at a few subsets of the Obama coalition:
1. African Americans
- While the official unemployment rate among whites is 6.7%, it is 13.4 % among African Americans, only slightly down from the 14.8% in 2009. Five years into the administration which received 93% of the African American vote, little progress has been made in the most fundamental of needs - jobs.
- Part of the reason for the high unemployment among African Americans is the presence of 11 million illegal Hispanic immigrants competing for low end jobs. A higher minimum wages is portrayed as part of the general "fairness" agenda favorable to all minorities, but any discussion of amnesty for illegals plays poorly in the African American community.
- There have been large payoffs, the greatest being some $1.5 billion for Black farmers who claimed discrimination in farm loan programs - often with little documentation or investigation.
- And Eric Holder's Justice Department has actively tried to expand the African American vote, actively opposing voter ID laws and restrictions on polling hours, particularly in swing states.
- As famously pointed out in Univision's 2012 interview, Obama campaigned heavily on comprehensive immigration reform and did little. The Dream Act for up to 1.8 million kids is offset by the Administration's 2,000,000 deportations.
- The commotion about the growing gap between the haves and the have nots is particularly relevant for Hispanics. It really doesn't matter if the Dow is up 100%; the continuing 12.4% Latino unemployment rate does matter and they are largely among the have-nots.
- Latinos are potentially among the greatest beneficiaries of Obamacare, although the administration doesn't have a breakdown of the enrollees yet.
3. Professional Single Women
- Healthcare is a more important issue for women than for men and Obama has certainly given it his all. Amid all of the problems, it is popular with younger single women with its mandated contraception and morning after pills.
- Equal Pay is always a good Democrat wedge issue with the President crowing about how terrible it is that women still only receive 77% of what men earn on the average without mentioning that the gap is substantially smaller if comparing equivalent jobs, educations, and years in the work force. (Women are more prevalent in lower-paying healthcare and education; men in manufacturing and construction.) Buried in Obama's proclamations is the fact that in the White House women receive only 88% of what the men are paid. But it is good politics.
- Given the looming Hillary candidacy the energy of this group remains high.
4. Gays and Lesbians
- As the acceptance of same sex marriage makes its way state-by-state and court-by-court, Obama has "evolved" from opposition to apparent indifference.
- In a stunning rejection of constitutional democracy, Eric Holder has declared that state attorneys general are not obligated to uphold the law if they do not agree with it, unleashing all sorts of future mischief for future politically ambitious state AGs.
5. The Lower Working Class
- The question is whether the masses hold the president responsible for an economy which most still think to be in recession four years into a technical recovery. The average worker doesn't care about the 6.7 % unemployment rate, the fact that work force participation is the lowest in 35 years, and that we have just recently reached the number of employed workers that we had in 2008. What he does know is that work is scarce and the income of those with work is shrinking.
- The administration has done a good job of vilifying Republicans for opposing budget-busting programs to soften the blow of the Obama economy, but what people need is decent jobs and at least viscerally many understand that the war on job creators does have a trickle down effect.
6. The kids
- Being able to stay on your parents insurance is cool, but being forced to buy your own is not.
- There is a moment of new awareness upon college graduation when one realizes that the average debt is over $29,000 and the unemployment rate for those 16 to 24 is 15% - nearly 30% for those with just a high school degree. At least you can always go on to law school.
- Perhaps most importantly, the fiasco of the Obamacare roll-out and the individual mandate force a rethinking of whether it is appropriate for the federal government to address societal issues which have historically been decided at lower governmental levels or by the individual.
As we head into the 2014 House and Senate elections there will be a lot of discussion about how Republicans always do better when there is no presidential election on the ballot; this time the Democrats also have the problem that Obama has been great at speeches, but his policies and his lackadaisical governing have not delivered on the things that motivated his coalition. For Republicans to win they don't need to win over Obama's base, they just need to have Obama's supporters decide that Utopia ended with the speeches.
This week's video is a repeat from last Fall. Everyone should watch Louisiana state Senator Elbert Guillory's explanation of why he switched to being a Republican.
bill bowen - 4/11/14