Will Trump Make the #1 Political Mistake of the Obama Administration: Picking the Wrong #1 Priority

by johndavis, January 17, 2017

Will Trump Make the #1 Political Mistake of the Obama Administration: Picking the Wrong #1 Priority January 17, 2017          Vol. X, No. 1             10:13 am Only 15% named “health care” as the #1 priority in 2009 Little did we know on this day in 2009, as the finishing touches were being made in preparation for
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Will Trump Make the #1 Political Mistake of the Obama Administration: Picking the Wrong #1 Priority

January 17, 2017          Vol. X, No. 1             10:13 am

Only 15% named “health care” as the #1 priority in 2009

Little did we know on this day in 2009, as the finishing touches were being made in preparation for the inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States, that in less than two years Democrats would suffer one of the most consequential political disasters in American history. Will Trump and the Republicans suffer the same fate in 2018?

In 2010, the Democrats’ 63-seat net loss in US House races had not been seen since 1938.  Furthermore, the Democrats lost their rare filibuster-proof advantage in the US Senate.

Among the states, Democrats lost a net of 680 legislative seats in 2010, breaking the record set by Republicans after the post-Watergate GOP political disaster of 1974. Democrats also went from having a majority of the nation’s governorships to only 20 of the 50 state chief executives.

A catastrophic loss of political power at the federal and state level is the lot awaiting the GOP in 2018 if Donald Trump and the Republican congressional leadership make the same mistake that Barack Obama and the Democratic congressional leaders made during his first two years in office.

The mistake? They picked the wrong #1 priority.

In 2009 and 2010, during the worst recession since the Great Depression, 56% of Americans told Gallup that they were worried most about jobs and the economy. That is the finding of a Gallup study of the yearly averages of the most important problems during the Obama years.

However, President Obama and the Democrats in Congress made health care reform their #1 priority, an issue deemed most important by only 15% of Americans.

Then, the political disaster of 2010.

Top Democrat Chuck Schumer said health care was the wrong priority

US Senator Chuck Schumer, D-NY, who as Senate Minority Leader is the nation’s highest ranking elected Democrat, told a National Press Club audience in November, 2014, “Unfortunately, Democrats blew the opportunity the American people gave them in electing Obama and a Democratic Congress in 2008 amid a recession. We took their mandate and put all our focus on the wrong problem -- health care reform.”

Schumer’s 2014 National Press Club appearance was in the aftermath of the loss of the Democratic majority in the US Senate. With the exception of holding the White House in 2012, the ill-fated decision to make health care reform the #1 priority of President Obama’s first two years in office has become the political gift that keeps on giving … to Republicans.

In the Campaigns of 2014 and 2016, health care reform continued to be effectively used by Republicans to defeat Democrats because Democrats foolishly continued to overstate its relative importance in American life. What was more important?

The Gallup study of the most important problems during the Obama Administration, with a sample size of about 96,000 respondents (12,000 per year for each of the eight Obama years), shows that health care was never as important as the economy, jobs and government reform.

  • Health care was not on Gallup’s annual average top three most important problems in any of the last six years of the Obama Administration
  • Every single year from 2011 through 2016, “Government” joined the “Economy” and “Jobs” as one of the annual average top three most important problems

The political consequences of the Democrats’ mistake of selecting health care reform as their #1 priority in 2010 were immediate. The devastation began with the loss of US Sen. Teddy Kennedy’s seat in Massachusetts to a Republican in January, 2010, and continued throughout the Obama Administration up to and including the loss of the White House in 2016 … and the likely loss of the ideological advantage on the US Supreme Court during Trump’s first term.

Will Trump and the Republicans suffer the same fate in 2018? Not if they stay focused on the issues of the economy, jobs and government reform.

Trump starts with low favorable ratings AND high expectations on jobs

A new Washington Post-ABC News Poll released this morning, January 17, 2017, shows that Donald Trump will begin his first term with the lowest favorable rating (40%) of any president during the past four decades.  The two presidents who began their administrations with the highest favorable ratings were Barack Obama (79%) and Jimmy Carter (78%). Both presidents set the Democratic Party back for years with policy mistakes that fueled insurgent Republicans.

The second lowest favorable rating was Ronald Reagan (58%).  His administration became the solid foundation of the modern Republican Party.

What is most relevant for new presidents is that they meet the expectations of most Americans by staying focused on the top priorities of most Americans.  Today, according to the new Washington Post-ABC News Poll, Americans expect Trump to succeed with the top priorities:

  • 61% expect Trump to do an “excellent or good job” handling the economy
  • 59% expect Trump to do an “excellent or good job” creating jobs
  • 56% expect Trump to do an “excellent or good job” handling the threat of terrorism
  • 50% expect Trump to do an “excellent or good job” handling the federal budget deficit
  • 50% expect Trump to do an “excellent or good job” of helping the middle class

Americans may give Trump lousy favorable ratings, but they sure do have high expectations that he will stay focused on the priorities of the day and do an “excellent or good job” of handling the most important problems of the day.

If Trump, along with the Republicans in Congress, will stay focused on the expectations of American voters and avoid the Obama Administration mistake of creating their own list of priorities, they will set the GOP up for winning the US Senate and US House majorities in the midterm elections of 2018, thereby ensuring a conservative US Supreme Court.

Otherwise, Republicans will suffer the same fate in 2018 that Democrats did in 2010.

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