Barack Obama’s support among his core minority constituencies is quickly eroding. African-Americans are especially troubling with poll numbers now around 50% on his jobs record. Hispanic support is also disappearing as the President slashes more and more critical social programs supporting poor and working Americans. His prime focus on bailing out Wall Street instead of main Street resulted in a mass loss of 87 House seats in 2010 but instead of concentrating on aiding the poor, working people, children and the elderly he turned around and began cutting their programs to mollify the rich, white Republicans in Congress.
The current debt ceiling crisis now finds him putting major cuts to Social Security on the table while a cent of $700/year in Pentagon spending is touched. White liberals bailed on Obama already and with Blacks and Hispanics now showing rapidly declining support he seems doomed to be a one term President.
A surge of Black voters in 2008 along with young people elected Obama with a clear plurality. Now with overall approval numbers under 50% (42%-47%) and high disapproval figures he would lose if the election were held this summer. His actions during the debt ceiling negotiations are eroding that support even more. The people who voted in 2008 will join the other 50% of Americans on the sidelines in 2012 and not vote at all if their choices are Obama versus a Republican. If Democrats want to keep the White House they need to find another candidate. He would lose Pennsylvania if the election were held today.
Those polls are even more ominous for the president: In every reputable battleground state poll conducted over the past month, Obama’s support is weak. In most of them, he trails Republican front-runner Mitt Romney. For all the talk of a closely fought 2012 election, if Obama can’t turn around his fortunes in states such as Michigan and New Hampshire, next year’s presidential election could end up being a GOP landslide.
On April 7th the LA Times reported the first significant slides in this voter demographic: in March Black support fell seven points and 11% among Hispanics. Only about half of African-American voters now approve of the President’s effort on creating jobs. That is the number one issue among voters and will likely drive their decisions in 2012.
George W. Bush understood the importance of pleasing his base. Barack Obama, since he first took office, has worked to disenfranchise his. His policies of cutting spending, escalating the war in Afghanistan, starting a war in Libya, continuing torture, not closing Guantanamo, and aggressively cutting the social safety net has exasperated his liberal base. Inaction on repealing DADT lost him the LGBT vote and when you begin cobbling together a winning coalition Obama has lost the support he needs for re-election.
Democrats can either find a primary challenger or sit on the sidelines and watch an independent such as Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont siphon off their traditional voters. If the race comes down to Obama/Romney the Republican will win. A third candidate would guarantee that outcome. Obama has a short window in which to shore up his base and any cuts to Social Security during the debt ceiling negotiations will insure his failure as a president and land him in the bottom rung of presidents. No one on or approaching retirement age will vote for a man who cut Social Security. A viable third party hasn’t seen such a golden opportunity since the Republicans replaced the Whigs.
What was the primary issue on which Obama ran in 2008? He spent fifteen minutes of his stump speech promising to change Washington. I can see Republicans playing those clips over and over next year and ripping him for his colossal failure to do so. I said at the time he was pandering to voters and I was correct. The best thing Barack Obama can do now is step aside and do an LBJ.