July 29, 2012

NOWHERE TO GO BUT DOWN:

Big trouble for Obama: Lessons of presidential reelection history (Abe Katsman, JULY 11, 2012, Times of Israel)

[T]here is a remarkable underlying pattern in American presidential history: While the United States has elected 16 presidents to second terms, in 15 of those cases, the president was reelected by a wider margin than in his first-term election. (The outlier: Woodrow Wilson was re-elected in 1916 by a razor-thin margin in what was essentially a referendum on whether America should enter World War I. His campaign theme: "He kept us out of war." Eleven weeks into his second term, at Wilson's urging, the US declared war against Germany.  Fascinating history, but I digress.)

There is a lesson in that wider-margin-required-for-reelection statistic. Second term presidential candidacies are ultimately a thumbs-up/thumb-down verdict on a president's first term in office. Either the first term has been successful enough to win over even some of those who voted against the president the first time around, or the president loses. The question in the minds of voters -- especially those who did not vote for the incumbent the first time around -- boils down to: "Do I want four more years of this?"

And in the case of President Obama, who won 53% of the vote last time out, it's hard to see what segments of the electorate would be clamoring to answer that question in the affirmative at all, let alone in higher percentages than he received in 2008. His job approval numbers are far below that 53% level already.

Obama's 2008 margin of victory was 7%. Now, let's assume that 2008 Republican voters remain Republican; if just one in 13 Americans who supported Obama switch their vote, he loses. And if he can't repeat the enthusiastic turnout numbers from various demographics he won in 2008, he's in even bigger trouble.


On the way out? President Barack Obama (photo credit: Amos Ben Gershom/ GPO/Flash90)

Ready for some campaign arithmetic? 

Posted by at July 29, 2012 6:37 AM
  

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