Monday, December 8, 2014

November Month in Review: Obama Thwarts the Boehner/McConnell "New American Congress" Before it Begins

Against all odds, it was a pretty good month for President Obama.  The mid-term thumping by the GOP was quickly eclipsed in the news cycle by the pyrotechnics of the lame-duck session of Congress, and the kick-off of that was a doozy:  Obama’s sweeping executive action on immigration, granting temporary legal status to millions of undocumented immigrants. 

Obama not exactly licking his wounds?
New Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner have long dreamed of being in power and running the GOP “responsibly,” exemplified by McConnell’s immediate post-election pledge that there would be no government shutdowns or debt ceiling crises in his reign.  Boehner has taken to calling the next session “The New American Congress.”  But Obama’s executive action infuriated the GOP, and the Tea Party wing screamed for retaliation ranging from shutdown to impeachment.  This in turn thwarted the GOP’s plans to use the lame duck session to “clear the decks” so that the new Congress could begin in 2015 to enact a new era of legislation around tax reform, infrastructure projects and other areas of potential cooperation with Obama and the Dems.

Boehner can't believe he still needs Pelosi's votes?
Instead of deck clearing, the GOP leadership is desperately trying to cobble together GOP support for spending bills that will keep the government functioning well into 2015 (September), and finding enough votes within the GOP ranks is proving to be tough going.  Boehner may need to rely on Democratic votes to pass such a bill if he cannot placate the 30 to 40 Tea Party members who want a more aggressive protest to Obama, including a far shorter-term spending bill (until March) and one that withholds, as best as possible, funding to enforce the immigration action (hard to do).

Thus, Obama has essentially put his opponents in a box:  do they allow the executive action to go relatively unchallenged, or instead continue the “obstructionist” GOP ways that have proven so unpopular?

In the New Year we will see how the "New American Congress" handles Obama’s high profile appointments for Attorney General (Loretta Lynch) and Secretary of Defense (Ashton Carter).  Both are solid choices that the GOP would block at their peril.  Once again, the GOP dilemma arises:  avoiding the obstructionist label will be welcome, but will also amount to allowing the very actions that enrage the Tea Party base.  As we swing into the 2016 Presidential races, that is no small matter.  A Ted Cruz could go far in the Tea Party-dominated primaries railing against such Obama accommodation.

When will the Dems ever get credit for job creation?
Did anyone notice the 321,000 new jobs added in the latest unemployment report, or, even better, the 0.4% increase in personal income?  The evidence mounts that the economy is moving from “modest improvement” into a higher gear.  At some point, as Washington tries mightily to shift in the direction of normalcy, economic strength may indeed become an asset for the Democrats.  Although, of course, the GOP will point to the coincidence of their 2014 mid-term win with the upswing in economic performance.

APPROVAL RATING

It may not be much but President Obama’s approval rating finally rounds up to 44% and his net ticked down to -8, very marginal improvements versus the 43/-9 he has been stuck at for months.  A sharp up tick among Hispanics (I’ve read as high as 15%) was doubtless offset by those who disapproved of his executive action.  (For the record, the majority of Americans in both parties approve of the substance of his actions, but his method splits along party lines.)

Obama Approval Rating
Election Day 2012
8-Sep
5-Oct
10-Nov
8-Dec
  Approve
49.6
43.2
43.4
43.1
43.8
  Disapprove
47.4
52.2
52.5
52.4
52.1
  Net
2.2
-9.0
-9.1
-9.3
-8.3

GENERIC BALLOT

The election aftermath has brought little change in the few generic ballot polls, with the GOP still ahead, albeit by a few fewer tenth of a percentage point.

Generic Ballot
Election Day 2012
8-Sep
5-Oct
10-Nov
8-Dec
  Democrat
46.3
41.5
41.4
43.0
40.3
  Republican
46.0
41.0
43.3
44.8
41.8
  Net
0.3
0.5
-1.8
-1.8
-1.5

ECONOMETER

The Econometer continues to drive ever upward, as gas prices drop, the Dow soars toward 18,000, and a healthy GDP rocks.

Econometer
Election Day 2012
8-Sep
5-Oct
10-Nov
8-Dec
Econometer
0.0
74.9
73.8
82.1
89.4






  Unemployment Rate
7.9
6.1
5.9
5.8
5.8
  Consumer Confidence
73.1
92.4
86.0
94.5
88.7
  Price of Gas
3.71
3.56
3.47
3.29
2.94
  Dow Jones
      13,330
         16,825
    17,066
    16,836
17,758
  GDP
3.1
4.2
4.2
3.5
3.9

OBAMACARE

Remember Obamacare?  The new sign-up season is underway without incident and insurance premiums did not go through the roof.  Reflexively, most Americans continue to disapprove of the bill, which is not surprising since most are unaffected by it.  But the Supreme Court is getting another chance to take a whack at it in 2015, so the drama is not over.

Obamacare
Election Day 2012
8-Sep
5-Oct
10-Nov
8-Dec
  For/Favor
40.0
42.0
39.4
38.3
40.3
  Oppose/Against
50.8
52.5
51.9
51.7
54.0
  Net
-10.8
-10.5
-12.4
-13.4
-13.8

2016 PRESIDENTIAL RACE
2016 match-up?

A few more names have been thrown into the polling hopper in November.  The addition of Bernie Sanders does not exactly shake up the Democratic field, which remains Hillary clobbering “all others,” but Mitt Romney now appears atop the GOP list and Ben Carson cracks the top three.  A splintered GOP field thus divides further.  There is no indication Romney will run, and several other prominent types (Bush, Huckabee and Ryan) are not givens either. 


Nov 10
Dec 8


Nov 10
Dec 8
  Clinton
64
61

  Romney
n/a
20
  Biden
14
12

  Bush
14
10
  Warren
10
9

  Carson
n/a
9
  Sanders
n/a
5

  Christie
10
8
  Cuomo
1
1

  Huckabee
12
6
  O'Malley
2
1

  Paul
13
6
  Webb
n/a
1

  Ryan
11
6
  All other/Und.
9

  Cruz
4
5




  Walker
3
5




  Perry
7
3




  Rubio
7
3




  Kasich
n/a
2




  Jindal
3
2




  Santorum
4
2




  Pence
n/a
1




  All other/Und.
12
12


7 comments:

  1. Obama will be remembered as one of our greatest American presidents despite the best efforts of the Tea Party Taliban. I look forward to what he has in store for the Republicans over the next two years! He is tougher than you think...Congress better start governing and compromising or they will be out on their ears. Repeal Citizens United!!

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    Replies
    1. I agree 100%!

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    2. So you think destroying the USA qualifies Obama as the greatest president? and comparing American citizens (TeaParty) to the Taliban, a group who beheads people brutally killing them makes you INSANE. I've never seen any TeaParty members beheading anyone, have you? You ignorant, stupid LIBERAL.

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    3. The reference to the Tea Party Taliban is a bit over the top, but so are these capitalized rants about insanity, ignorance and stupidity. I hardly think Obama has destroyed the US and do believe that over time, we will embrace Obamacare with the same zeal that we currently embrace reforms such as Medicare and Social Security which came in the last century. And Obama will thereby go down in history as a transformative president. What would be productive, in the meantime, would be if those of us who disagree could have some thoughtful debate rather than these ugly shouting matches.

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  2. I think Obama continues to play chess while the republicans play checkers.

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  3. Democrats are blind, deaf and dumb...

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  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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