And the best part... they think they won!
Ignore the revisionist hype in sections of the liberal media about President Obama staging a (mythical) political comeback – this is a presidency with an approval rating of 45 percent (according to the RealClear Politics poll of polls), that presides over a nation where just 27 percent of voters think the country is moving in the right direction, and which just 29 percent of Americans think will be returned to power in 2012. The White House may be claiming a couple of political wins in the dying embers of the lame duck Congress after expending a great deal of political capital in the Senate over the reckless ratification of the Moscow-friendly START Treaty and the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, but these are issues barely on the radar screens of most American voters in the lead-up to 2012, an election which will be dominated by the economy and health care reform.
The political landscape still looks strikingly bleak for the “transformational president” as he goes into 2011. 2010 was a stunningly bad year for Barack Obama, no matter how much the likes of The New York Times or The Washington Post might try to sugar coat it. Here are four key reasons why it was a year Obama will want to forget:
1. The midterm elections were a defeat of epic proportions for the Obama Presidency
When Barack Obama spoke of a “shellacking” at the midterms, it was a huge understatement. The Republicans scored a significantly bigger win than they did in 1994, with their biggest gain in the House of Representatives in 62 years – since 1948. Fortunately for the Democrats, just 37 Senate seats were up for election, preventing what would have been an almost certain handover of power in the upper house too. Republicans also made huge gains at the gubernatorial level, with the GOP now holding 29 governorships to the Democrats’ 20. Republicans also picked up 680 seats in state legislatures, the highest figure in the modern era.
2. Conservatism grew increasingly dominant in America
The midterms were certainly no flash in the pan, but part of a broader conservative revolution that swept America in 2010. As a recent Gallup survey showed, 48 percent of Americans now describe themselves as “conservative”, compared to 32 percent who call themselves “moderate”, and just 20 percent who call themselves “liberal”. Conservatives now outnumber liberals by nearly 2.5 to 1, a ratio that is likely to increase in 2011. The percentage of Americans who are conservative has risen six points since 2006 and eight points since 1994. Barack Obama, the most liberal US president of the modern era, has a natural liberal constituency comprised of just one in five Americans, which certainly does not bode well for 2012.
3. The Left lost ground and engaged in a brutal civil war
2010 was a monumentally bad year for the liberal establishment in the United States, not only in electoral terms but in terms of increasing divisions within its ranks, as well as the continuing decline of the “mainstream” liberal media. Conservative media, from Fox News to The Wall Street Journal, have had a tremendous year, increasing market share while establishment giants from CNN to network news outlets continue to decline. The White House unwisely took on Fox in a major offensive, and spectacularly lost. Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, and a constellation of conservative talk show hosts have had a bumper 2010. In the meantime, America’s disillusioned liberal elites are increasingly aiming their fire at each other, in scenes reminiscent of the bloodthirsty finale of Reservoir Dogs. New York Times columnist Paul Krugman perfectly captured the brutal post-midterm atmosphere on the Left in a fiery broadside against the president: “Whatever is going on inside the White House, from the outside it looks like moral collapse — a complete failure of purpose and loss of direction.”
4. The Tea Party became more powerful than the president at the ballot box
The Tea Party was the big victor of 2010, and spectacularly humiliated the White House by running rings around it. A small grassroots movement with barely any resources evolved into the most successful US political movement of this generation, sparking a national protest against the Big Government policies of the Obama administration, and a powerful call for a return to America’s founding principles. The Tea Party was initially mocked and jeered by its political opponents, including the president, but later came to be feared by the Left as it flexed tremendous political muscle. As I noted in September, a CNN poll showed that “while just 37 percent of Americans are more likely to vote for a candidate if backed by Barack Obama, a far larger 50 percent will vote for a Tea-Party endorsed candidate.” The Tea Party continues to gain momentum following the midterms, where it scored significant successes, and a late November USA Today/Gallup poll showed the Tea Party virtually neck and neck with President Obama in terms of voter opinion on who should influence government policy.