CommunityElections

What a Referendum on the President Looks Like

Public Divided over Republican Leaders’ Plans for the FutureSince we have a two party political system there are two basic ways for a party to win big in an election. The first way is to put forward a positive agenda that the public agrees with and comes out to actively support on election day. The other is to simply wait for their opponents to fail, knowing the only way for the public to punish them at the ballot box is by voting for your party instead.

This chart from Pew Research shows the 2014 mid-term election was the later. It was not a vote for Republicans ideas but a vote against President Obama who is perceived to be a failure.

We can clearly see what a mandate for a party’s proposals looks like, and that 2014 doesn’t fit that pattern.

In 1994 the public actively supported the Contract with America. A clear majority approved of the the Republican plan for the country after the election. Similarly, in 2006 the public really came out for Democrats foreign policy and economic ideas. This year on the other hand was a referendum on Obama.

If Democrats want to avoid historic loses again they need to accept that Obama failed and figure out how to avoid making the same mistakes in the future. Pretending there was no real problem except that Democrats should invest more in voter outreach and try more clever political maneuvers is a long term recipe for disaster.

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What a Referendum on the President Looks Like

Public Divided over Republican Leaders’ Plans for the FutureSince we have a two party political system there are two basic ways for a party to win big in an election. The first way is to put forward a positive agenda that the public agrees with and comes out to actively support on election day. The other is to simply wait for their opponents to fail, knowing the only way for the public to punish them at the ballot box is by voting for your party instead.

This chart from Pew Research shows the 2014 mid-term election was the later. It was not a vote for Republicans ideas but a vote against President Obama who is perceived to be a failure.

We can clearly see what a mandate for a party’s proposals looks like, and that 2014 doesn’t fit that pattern.

In 1994 the public actively supported the Contract with America. A clear majority approved of the the Republican plan for the country after the election. Similarly, in 2006 the public really came out for Democrats foreign policy and economic ideas. This year on the other hand was a referendum on Obama.

If Democrats want to avoid historic loses again they need to accept that Obama failed and figure out how to avoid making the same mistakes in the future. Pretending there was no real problem except that Democrats should invest more in voter outreach and try more clever political maneuvers is a long term recipe for disaster.

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Jon Walker

Jon Walker

Jonathan Walker grew up in New Jersey. He graduated from Wesleyan University in 2006. He is an expert on politics, health care and drug policy. He is also the author of After Legalization and Cobalt Slave, and a Futurist writer at http://pendinghorizon.com

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