Whatever may be the outcome of the 2016 presidential election, it is turning into one of the most bizarre contests in U.S. political history. In both parties.
President Obama won the presidency in 2008 when the economy was the overriding issue in the political polls, and< seven years later it’s still the number one issue.
Obama’s job approval polls have been stuck in the 40 percent range over the course of much of his presidency, with a big chunk of the electorate saying the economy is “getting worse.”
And there’s lots of evidence to support their grievances. Economic growth has been, and still is, bumbling along at a mediocre 2 percent annual pace. Jobs are being created but much of them come in low-paying part-time work.
Even Democratic analysts are blaming party leaders for their their failure to get the economy moving again.
One of them is Democratic pollster Stanley Greenberg who explored his party’s troubles in a new book, “America Ascendant.”
In an interview with Washington Post political analyst Dan Balz, Greenberg argues that these economic issues, “now in the forefront of the Democratic party’s debate, have not been the principal focus of the Obama administration.”/p>
“His economic project was the recovery,” Greenberg said. “But that only takes you back to where we were. What I argue is that there are big structural economic and social problems, and the reason why this new majority is disengaged is because Democratic leaders have not addressed these problems.”
He makes an important point. Go back and search the newspaper archives over the past seven years and you’ll be hard pressed to find any criticism from party leaders about the failed Obama economy.
House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid, and their party’s rank and file, remained as silent as the grave.
One might think that after seven, long, hard years of a subpar, underperforming economy, the Republicans would be ready to kick the Democrats out of the White House next year with a seasoned, can do candidate whose been there, done that.
The electorate was certainly ready to vent its anger on Obama in the midterm elections, and they did so with a vengeance: inflicting major losses on Democrats in the House and Senate in the 2010 and 2014 elections and putting the GOP in charge of Congress.
Democrats have also suffered major losses elsewhere across the country in a majority of the governorships and state legislatures.
This is the time when a fully experienced, Republican leader’s chances of winning back the White House — after two terms of Obama’s unpopular presidency — have never been better.