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Taking a Tumble Again

What Obama’s descending job approval ratings mean for November.

Jun 30, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 40 • By JAY COST
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But that theory may be coming undone. It is possible that the forces moving Democratic voters away from Obama are also pushing swing voters toward the GOP, to stymie a president they can no longer abide. If recent news is inducing Democrats to say, “That’s it, I oppose this president!” it may also be compelling swing voters to say, “That’s it, he has to be stopped!” 

When this happens, the Beltway political class talks about “nationalizing” an election. Something like nationalization probably occurred in 1980, when the Democratic president, Jimmy Carter, was very unpopular and the GOP won a Senate majority for the first time in 28 years. Nationalization helps explain several upsets over the last few cycles—Ron Johnson’s defeat of Russ Feingold in Wisconsin in 2010 would not have happened absent nationalization, for instance, nor would Jim Webb’s defeat of George Allen in Virginia in 2006.

Unfortunately, horse-race polling cannot yet give us a clear sense of what lies ahead. The portion of the electorate that swings midterm elections is small, and at this point in the cycle their thoughts on November’s Senate contests are not well formed. The GOP is leading in seven Democratic-held seats and well within striking distance in another four. But that is about all we can say. Polling cannot yet tell us whether swing voters will punish Democratic candidates for the failings of their party leader.

Republicans, though, would do well to encourage voters to do precisely that. The crush of events has shown the president to be desperately out of his depth. Both incompetent and factious, he lacks the mettle and the inclination to manage the affairs of state in the public interest. His allies should not be allowed to control any branch of government. He should be isolated to minimize the damage he can do in his last two years in office. If the people want Obama stopped, the only means is the GOP. Anything else is, for all intents and purposes, a vote for Obama.

This attack will not play in California or New York, but it may help move the needle in those seven Republican states with Senate races, not to mention in Colorado and Iowa, and maybe Michigan, New Hampshire, and Virginia.

Even a GOP Senate majority will not stop Obama, of course. The powers of the presidency have grown far beyond the original grant in the Constitution, quite often because Congress wrote vague or open-ended laws that presidents and their bureaucrats have been free to interpret. Still, a Republican Congress would be a start.

Jay Cost is a staff writer at The Weekly Standard.

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