Will the Arrogance of Invulnerability Mask the GOP’s Threat of Losing and Blind Their Strategic Judgment? March 1, 2017 Vol. X, No. 2 11:13 am Always Remember that You are Vulnerable While watching Republican President Donald Trump’s first address to the joint session of the Republican-led U.S. Congress last night, I thought about the
Will the Arrogance of Invulnerability Mask the GOP’s Threat of Losing and Blind Their Strategic Judgment?
March 1, 2017 Vol. X, No. 2 11:13 am
Always Remember that You are Vulnerable
While watching Republican President Donald Trump’s first address to the joint session of the Republican-led U.S. Congress last night, I thought about the same scene eight years ago, when Democratic President Barack Obama stood for the first time before a Democratic-led U.S. Congress, and I wondered if Republicans realize just how vulnerable they are.
That’s the most important political lesson I’ve learned from watching campaigns for power over the public purse for over 40 years. Always remember that you are vulnerable.
Eight years ago, on this day, March 1, 2009 … the 41st day of President Barack Obama’s first term … Democrats wielded all the political power in Washington, DC and in Raleigh.
So much power that they forgot they were vulnerable.
In addition to a Democrat in the White House on March 1, 2009, Nancy Pelosi, D-California, was Speaker of the U.S. House; Harry Reid, D-Nevada, was Senate Majority Leader.
On March 1, 2009, Pelosi led a 257-to-178 Democratic majority in the U.S. House. On the Senate side, Reid had a filibuster-proof majority of 58 Democrats and two independents who caucused with the Democrats.
In Raleigh, on March 1, 2009, Democrats ruled unchecked. Beverly Perdue, D-Craven was Governor, Mark Basnight, D-Dare was President Pro Tem of the NC Senate, and Joe Hackney, D-Orange was Speaker of the NC House.
So much power that they forgot they were vulnerable.
During the first 41 days of his administration, President Obama’s job approval per CNN had reached a high of 76%, with only 23% disapproving, for a net positive of + 53 points.
With a job approval of 76%, you can do as you please. Right?
By election day, November 3, 2009, President Obama’s job approval per an Associated Press nationwide poll was 54%, with 43% disapproving.
- During 2009, Obama’s job approval plummeted from 74% to 54%
- During 2009, Obama’s disapproval nearly doubled from 23% to 43%
In 2009, there were only two races for governor: New Jersey and Virginia. Republicans won both, despite the efforts of President Obama who personally campaigned on behalf of the Democrats.
The following year, Democrats would lose the special election for Teddy Kennedy’s seat in Massachusetts and, in the fall of 2010, would lose the majority in the U.S. House, six seats in the U.S. Senate, six governors and a record net loss of 680 state legislative seats … including the legislative majorities in the North Carolina state senate and house.
All while they had all the power in Washington DC and Raleigh. So much power that they forgot they were vulnerable.
Because Democrats didn’t think they were vulnerable, they abandoned the middle and moved hard-left. It was President Obama’s ideological comfort zone. He had been rated the #1 most liberal member of the U.S. Senate by the National Journal during his short stint as a senator.
But then, because he didn’t think he was vulnerable, President Obama made a rookie mistake. He put healthcare reform at the top of his list of priorities when the nation was most concerned about jobs and the economy.
It cost Democrats dearly. The U.S. House and most state capitals in 2010. The U.S. Senate in 2014. The White House in 2016. Soon, the U.S. Supreme Court.
Maybe Lousy Job Approval Numbers are a Good Thing
Looking back on 2016, I never got the impression that Hillary Clinton and her team of political professionals thought that they were vulnerable to Donald Trump and his “basket of deplorables.” The arrogance of invulnerability masked the threat of losing to Trump and blinded their strategic judgment.
This fall, as in 2009, there are two governor’s races: Virginia and New Jersey. Both governors are term limited. Chris Christie, R-NJ, after two terms. Terry McAuliffe, D-VA after one term. (Virginia is the only state left where the governor is limited to one term).
Will President Donald Trump be a drag on Republicans this year? Will rookie mistakes of the Trump administration lead to a catastrophic loss of GOP power in America during the first-term midterm election in 2018?
Today, March 1, 2017, President Donald Trump’s average job approval per Real Clear Politics is only 44%, with 50% disapproving. That’s a job approval of 30-points below President Barack Obama at the same time eight years ago.
But, maybe that’s not all bad.
Maybe a lousy job approval number early in a presidential administration will turn out to be a good thing; like a cautionary warning.
We shall soon see.
As to whether Republicans will maintain their grip on power in Washington DC and Raleigh, it’s a bit too soon to tell.
All I know is after 40 years of watching campaigns, those who appear to be the least vulnerable are often the most vulnerable. That’s because the arrogance of invulnerability masks the threat of losing and blinds the strategic judgment of candidates and their professionals.
Little did we know eight years ago, when Democratic President Barack Obama stood for the first time before a Democratic-led U.S. Congress, just how vulnerable Democrats were.
I wonder if Republicans realize just how vulnerable they are today?
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