Friday, December 10, 2010

Obama's Primary Challenge

Make no mistake, I think a liberal challenge to President Obama in the run up to the 2012 general Presidential election is a fantastic idea. As a matter of fact, if there is a strong enough Democratic primary challenge from Obama's left for 2012, I think it virtually guarantees a second term for the Obama Presidency. I came to this realization while speaking to former Hurricane Radio contributor SAWB last night on the phone.

As a libertarian/conservative who gets most of his information from talk radio, he's not blisteringly happy with the tax deal Obama just negotiated, as Democrats got more out of the deal than they have any rational reason to believe, but he thinks that only the liberals in the Democratic Party are angry with it enough to do anything about it. He played down the DeMint faction's lunacy on the topic (not voting for a bill where they get almost everything they want), and played up the idea that the liberal interests that "control the Democratic Party" (you know, the ones powerful enough to shoehorn the public option into health care over everyone else's objections < /sarcasm>) will challenge Obama in the 2012 primaries - and Obama will lose.

(This manufactured overestimation of the power of the ultra-left in the Democratic Party is one of the ways the GOTP has gained so much traction in the South and Midwest over the years, and is a constant theme of talk-radio. Like much of talk-radio, it has very little bearing on any existing or current political reality.)

While this narrative is being cooked up on right-wing radio (and I have grown to hope they continue), it has spread from there (as it always does) into a few on the left who are generally displeased with President Obama and who are deluded enough to see expediency in political purism. Because of this, some folks are now arguing against a Democratic primary challenge from Obama's left. While they have to say this, I surely hope someone on the far-left won't listen, and will go ahead and start their campaign yesterday.

Here's why:

1. Despite two years of the most virulent, reality-bending criticism from the right-wing, Obama's approval/disapproval among the general voting public remains roughly even. They've literally thrown everything at him, and the kitchen sink was first, setting their narratives that he is the next coming of whatever is considered the most evil character in world history that afternoon at the radio station. A challenge from the left would put Obama's pragmatic centrism on display to a greater degree than any academic comparisons can. Right-wing narrative, their greatest tool, will lose a great deal of power when compared to a reality the media will actively focus on.

2. Next: governing Obama might get a lot of things done, but he and the Democrats absolutely lose the political narrative concerning those things, and cede the terms of the debate to the right-wing. Campaigning Obama is a force of nature. As Dante has said, the GOTP wants to avoid "Campaign" Obama as long as possible. A Primary challenge from the left will get Obama in campaign mode, fighting for the center and the independents while the GOTP fights over their rabid, lunatic, War-On-Christmas-is-real believing base. The contrast to the general public will be night and day.

3. Democrats will be seen by the center and the independents as making the more mature, rational, responsible, pragmatic choice. While the best challenger would be Nancy Pelosi herself, someone close to her will suffice.

4. Finally: it will spool up and activate Democratic locals all across the land earlier, at a time when most of the GOTP assets will be in the heat of a much more fluid primary season. While the GOTP nominee will have a primary-tested campaign organization ready to go in the general, an Obama reelection campaign organization will already have the proverbial high ground.

This needs to happen.



Dante said...

"Despite two years of the most virulent, reality-bending criticism from the right-wing, Obama's approval/disapproval among the general voting public remains roughly even."

Looking at the approval ratings since Obama took office, I have to wonder what you mean by "even."

Has a Presidential incumbent who has had a serious primary challenger ever won reelection? I've heard the answer to that question is "no" but that's from an untrustworthy source. The examples I can think of all ended badly for the incumbent.

Cousin Pat from Georgia said...

Even Rassmussen, the most consistently right-biased poll discussed nationwide, has Obama's approval at 46% against a disapproval of 53%. A look at all major polls puts the numbers much closer. What I mean by "even" is "even."

As far as historical challenges, Carter was challenged by Ted Kennedy, and won; Ford was challenged by Reagan, and won. I think you have to go all the way back to 1884 to find a successful primary challenge to an incumbent. But I haven't looked at W-L record of Presidential incumbents with serious challengers losing to the other party.

Cousin Pat from Georgia said...

Derp. Unless of course, you're talking about Carter and Ford.

Mavric said...

My bottom line will be voting for the less extreme presidential candidate. If Obama loses to a leftist wingnut, I'm likely to vote Republican. If the GOP puts Sarah Palin in as their choice for a better tomorrow, I make the world a better place.

If both scenarios happen...micky mouse just might win in a write in landslide.

dsb said...

You make a persuasive case for something I thought I'd rather not see. It's a bit of a bank shot, though.