William Katz:  Urgent Agenda

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THE NEW POLITICAL BATTLEGROUND – AT 9:35 A.M. ET:  One reason I think Republicans are so eager to get started on 2014 and 2016 is their belief that the Obama era is unique, and unlikely to be repeated at the polls.  And they may be right.

A thoughtful piece in the Washington Post reports on studies showing what will happen if Barack Obama is not on the ticket: 

Folks on the right doubted that the coalition of young people, women and minorities, particularly African Americans, that put President Obama in the White House in 2008 would show up to keep him there in 2012. As the exit polls show, they most certainly did — big time. But will they show up when he’s not on the ballot?...

...The tide of minority voters that helped elect Mr. Obama in 2008 ebbed just two years later in a welter of populist anger over budget deficits, job losses and Mr. Obama’s agenda, allowing Republicans to retake the House and make gains in the Senate in the midterm elections. And there is no guarantee that the next Democratic presidential candidate will match Mr. Obama’s huge margins or turnout with minority voters.

...the NAACP’s battleground poll shows how real a concern about minority turnout post-Obama is. The president got 93 percent of the African American vote. But when black Democrats in Florida, Georgia, Ohio and Virginia were asked whether they would be enthusiastic about Democrats without Obama on the ballot, support nose-dives.

Democrats are looking at a 14-point drop in enthusiasm among African Americans in their support for the party’s 2016 nominee without Obama. The drop among those described as “very enthusiastic” is 32 points, from 79 percent to 47 percent.

COMMENT:  We caution that those are today's figures.  They can change.  And, of course, the Dems can put a black on the ticket, possibly as vice-presidential candidate.  Or Republicans can self-destruct, which they often work hard at doing. 

But, on balance, I think the theory is correct.  Obama is a historical figure.  He's Jackie Robinson, and there was only one Jackie.  While demographic trends continue to favor the Democrats, those trends can themselves produce different results in the future, particularly if Hispanics decide that the Democrats haven't delivered for them.

So it will probably be a new game by 2016, with new opportunities for our side.  Seizing those opportunities in the GOP challenge. 

November 20, 2012