President Obama’s name won’t be on any ballots Tuesday, but he will most certainly be on them in spirit — a fact that many Republicans are trumpeting and some Democrats are hoping to downplay.
The president is not particularly popular at the moment.
According to Gallup’s Frank Newport:
“President Obama’s job approval rating is 42 percent. If that holds up until the day before the election, it will be the second-lowest job approval rating for a president before a midterm election going back to 1982 when Ronald Reagan, of course, was president of the U.S. What was the lowest of all? That was George W. Bush’s, whose job approval rating was 38 percent back in 2006.”
IOW he’s no more “unpopular” than the creep the Republicans worship as a deity who ignored the AIDS pandemic and the creep who instigated two wars that destroyed the Middle East and are responsible or its ongoing horrors — ISIS being but one.
On a host of issues, foreign and domestic, large and small — the rise and spread of the Islamic State, the Russian aggression into Ukraine, the federal response to the Ebola crisis in West Africa and the panic here, the crisis of children from Central America crossing our Southern border, the Internal Revenue Service, the Secret Service, Obamacare and, of course, Benghazi — conservatives have attacked. They have used each as yet another plank to construct their government-as-House-of-Horrors argument about a Washington that is mismanaged and out of touch, overreaching but outmatched.
And in need of corporate overlords to set things right.
And in their propaganda, this idea of an ineffectual, and ultimately dangerous, government has a face: Obama’s. Republicans aren’t running on issues as much as running against an individual and an idea; they are running against Obama and the very idea of federal government, except as defined by the most narrow of functions.
That “narrow function” being Corporate Welfare.
Others believe that there is also something else at play, implicitly or explicitly: race. Last week NBC’s Chuck Todd asked Senator Mary Landrieu, the Louisiana Democrat locked in a tight re-election race, why President Obama has a hard time in her state. One of the reasons she gave was this: “I’ll be very, very honest with you. The South has not always been the friendliest place for African-Americans.”
An obvious Truth,
whose pointing out only serves to upset the House Nigger running against her
Note is invocation of “Fathers” — a role black men we are informed over and over and over again by the white-ruled propaganda machine are unable to enact.
This is the great immeasurable when it comes to this man. Race is a construct that, unfortunately, is woven through the fabric of America. Of course, it has some bearing on our politics, but it’s nearly impossible to calculate the degree of the effect for a particular politician. And there can be benefit as well as detriment — pride and prejudice as counterweights.
As Obama himself told The New Yorker in January: “There’s no doubt that there’s some folks who just really dislike me because they don’t like the idea of a black President.”
Cue Randy Newman.
He continued: “Now, the flip side of it is there are some black folks and maybe some white folks who really like me and give me the benefit of the doubt precisely because I’m a black President.”
Or maybe they realize what a good job you’re doing in the face of impossible odds.
As Gallup pointed out last week: “We find very little change in the support given to Obama among his strongest demographic subgroup: black Americans.” The report continued, “In fact, if anything, the trend is for relatively higher support among blacks” when measuring the gap between black support for Obama and the national average.
And that for a racist country like this one is the beating heart of the matter.
The president is now playing to those black folks in a last-ditch effort to help Democrats maintain Senate control, even as much of the betting money is on the real possibility that Republicans will wrest control away.
According to a New York Times analysis of voter data earlier this month: “African-Americans could help swing elections in Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina and possibly Arkansas,” but, the article says, “only if they turn out at higher-than-forecast rates.”
So, the president has been making direct appeals to this group on black radio stations across the country. Obama’s appeals appear to be working, at least as measured by the composition of early-voting tallies. As The New York Times’s Nate Cohn pointed out last week in The Upshot:
“The turnout among black voters is particularly encouraging for Democrats, who need strong black turnout to compete in racially polarized states like Georgia and North Carolina. In those two states, black voters so far represent 30 percent of the voters who did not participate in 2010. By comparison, 24 percent of all those who voted in those states in 2010 were black.”
Black support is particularly important this cycle since support among Hispanic voters is showing signs of weakening. A Washington Post/ABC News poll released last week “showed that, among Latinos, 50 percent say it doesn’t matter who wins the Senate come November. And among those who do think it will matter, twice as many say it would be a good thing (30 percent) if the G.O.P. took over as say it would be a bad thing (15 percent).”
Which is why the Republicans are working so hard at Voter Suppression.
It’s not clear whether President Obama can energize enough black voters to save Democratic control of the Senate, but he seems ever more reliant on this group to give him “the benefit of the doubt” and ride to his rescue.
Cue the Glorious Messenger
Let’s hope he gets there in time.