‘Permanent Democratic majority’ begins to unravel

November 4, 2009

America’s “permanent Democratic majority” ran smack into the economy’s apparent “new normal” of high unemployment and big deficits. Score one for the economy — and for Republicans.

Now the Democratic spin on losing the governorships of Virginia and New Jersey is this: All politics are local. A weak candidate in one state, an unpopular governor in the other. Plus voters are cranky about the economy.

No broader conclusions should be drawn. Now let’s move forward and go pass healthcare, OK, America?

But the political reality is not nearly that sunny for Democrats’ political fate or the Obama domestic agenda. Jon Corzine lost in deep-blue New Jersey — a state Candidate Obama won by nearly 15 percentage points — despite outspending Republican opponent Chris Christie by some three to one.

And not only did Republican Bob McDonnell lead a GOP landslide sweep of major offices in swing-state Virginia, his 344,000-vote victory came against an opponent he defeated by just 360 votes in 2005 for attorney general.

And it wasn’t just the bad economy. Yes, exit polls showed great voter anxiety about high unemployment. But also notice huge Republican margins among New Jersey and Virginia independents, voters traditionally suspicious of government spending and budget deficits. These are the sorts of folks who left the GOP in 1992 to vote for Ross Perot and parted ways again in 2006 and 2008 because they felt Republicans had morphed again into big spenders.

(And the unemployment rate isn’t even that terrible in Virginia: 6.7 percent versus 9.8 nationally.)

Voter revulsion at trillion-dollar deficits and impatience about unemployment is creating a toxic environment for the Obama White House and congressional Democrats. Major legislative items like healthcare, energy and financial reform are already slipping into next year.

History suggests that incumbent parties who get big things done, get them done in the first year of a presidential term, such as the Reagan tax cuts or Clinton’s successful push for NAFTA. Midterm election years are where big policy dreams turn into nightmares, such ashealthcare reform in 1994.

It’s hard to imagine that the 84 House Democrats from districts won by either John McCain in 2008 or President Bush in 2004 are now more inclined to support either an expensive health plan or a cap-and-trade energy plan. Already Democrats are hinting at shrinking the former and putting the latter on the backburner. (One policy that might get more attention is a second stimulus package to create more jobs.)

Tuesday’s election results are a roadmap for political gridlock in Washington and a possible Democratic electoral disaster in 2010.

A respected political forecasting model by Ray Fair Yale University calculates that Democrats and Republicans should split the 2010 vote because of the economy. If that scenario unfolds, then David Wasserman of the Cook Political Report, according to an interview with The Hill, thinks “Republicans will probably be winning back the House.”

Did Candidate Obama really transform the American electorate a year ago? Perhaps. (Though, then again, having the economy collapse right before Election Day may have helped artificially inflate his vote totals just a bit.)

But dissatisfaction at the policies of President Obama looks to have quickly transformed it right back.


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The current administration has put the country on a course of reckless government spending that has mortgaged the future of all Americans especially future generations. We are witnessing the greatest intrusion into the private lives of individuals and business in history. Obama’s pledge of transparency has turned out to be a lie that has been replaced by secrecy and media manipulation. The American people what less government not more. The American people do not want health care reform that will do little to reduce costs and improve quality but will create numerous do nothing bureaucratic jobs. If Obama and the congress do not start acting according to the will of the people, the American people will continue to VOTE THEM OUT! It seems the “angry mobs” were real people after all!

Posted by AngryMobVoter | Report as abusive

There are 304 million people in the US. They all want something different. “The will of the people” doesn’t exist.

The fact is that McCain was running even or slightly ahead in the polls until the mother of all economic calamities hit. Now, all those independents who switched to BHO are claiming “they did not sign up for this”. Now it’s too late and we have this “New Normal” presided over by a bunch of Neo-Marxists.

Posted by DKP | Report as abusive

Whose quote is “permanent Democratic majority.” Just yours? Why put the phrase in quotes then?

Unemployment is a lagging economic indicator, so the worse it is, the closer we are to recovery. It has always happened that way in every recession. Don’t you know that yet? A looming recovery doesn’t bode well for Republicans.

Posted by Matt Carroll | Report as abusive

Watch for Obama and his financial supporters to create other crisis events if they can keep him in and take the rest of the money out of America.

Posted by Letscheck | Report as abusive

Anyone pundit who talks of a new coming permanent majority is either woefully ignorant or just seeking some good headline to out do others. There is no permanent majority taking over in this country, they said the same thing about the Republicans in 2002, 04, and look what has happened. The pendulum always swings back and forth, rarely does it stick to one side. This is not the time of FDR and the great depression, there will be no permanent majority ever again in this country.

Posted by b | Report as abusive

Most people were duped last year by Obama’s suave, cool personality. Day after day the real Obama is being revealed because he’s not a candidate anymore, but has the real job of governing – And actions speak louder than words. People don’t like what they are seeing….

Posted by jamaljk | Report as abusive

Yes! Yes! Yes! Finally someone who gets it! Partisan spin aside, last night was about independents and the middle. We got angry and punished Republicans in 2006 and 2008 – many of us due to fiscal irresponsibility. So you can imagine how much angrier we are at 4 times the fiscal responsibility now being exhibited. We punished Democrats last night. And we will punish them next year. This is the point where I should say that independents are sick and tired of hearing that Barack Obama inherited a mess. He inherited a mess alright-a mess that started with the housing meltdown – and that meltdown started with Democrats who browbeat and threatened banks into lending money to people who couldn’t pay it back. Then when some greedy A-holes on Wall Street found a way to package it all up and make money, the two pillars of this crisis were cemented together: liberal social engineering and Wall Street greed.

Your historical references are spot on too. I was part of the wave that punished Bill Clinton and the Dems in 1994, but rewarded Bill 2 years later when he tacked back center and started balancing budgets.

Mr. Pethokoukis, your insight is spot on. I will make a point of watching for your articles in the future.

Posted by Independence through Independents | Report as abusive

Democrats are unraveling because last night they met:


http://naturalfake.wordpress.com/2009/11  /04/the-american-regent

In a recent Gallup poll 40 percent of those polled said they were conservative. 35 % said they were moderate, this leaves 25 percent. The Republicans won in New Jersey and Virginia because moderate independents voted 2 to 1 for the new Gop Govs. This is the critical voting group. Whoever wins this group will control the playing field. Suburbia in New Jersey And Northern Virginia basically switched sides. Fairfax Va. voted for the new govenor. Obama won it in a landslide in 2008! Obama won in The Old dominion by 5% in 2008. The new Gop Gov won by 18 points, this is almost a Quarter of the electorate. Obama won New Jersey by 15 points in 2008.

The public got a taste of Obama’s socialist future and are spitting the democrats out.

Posted by Tim | Report as abusive

As a NJ resident, I can tell you that you’re implication is wrong. Obama remains popular in NJ, but Corzine and incumbents in general, are not. This election was about ever rising property taxes, gross mismanagement and fraud in state government. And despite his money Corzine has never been a figure of personal charisma or popularity. With the fix the state is in, if Jesus was an incumbent we would have lost to the challenger.

Posted by Michael | Report as abusive

Virginia’s, as Maryland’s, unemployment rate is skewed by its DC suburbs where there never seems to be a shortage of “capital” (even if we have to print it) and where even in a recession, the payroll expands rather than contracts. The rest of the state is hurting like most everyone else.

Posted by SukieTawdry | Report as abusive

Clinton took over the massive deficits of “trickle in his pants” and HW, and left a surplus. What a communist. Dubya’s repetition of the republican mantra to lower taxes for his rich cronies, and deregulate everything, leads to fiscal irresponsibility by the banks and a global economic meltdown. “Oh we’re too big to fail” they cry. Now, under O, there is a fragile recovery, which will lead to a healthier revenue for the gov’t and it can again reduce taxes. Granted, bailing out irresponsible banks is like giving a gun to the burglar. I kept my money on the sideline while dubya jammed the works, and plopped it back in for Mr O’s recovery team. Wanna see my portfolio? you go on crying, while I have all your failed investment “lower taxes” money and laugh all the way to my more responsible bank. I know, just call me a capitalist.

Posted by Mike | Report as abusive

I am totally fed up with politicians in D.C.!!!

This has got to be the absolutely worse gaggle of idiots elected to national office in the history of America. A few idiots here and and a few idiots there used to be compensated by most of the rest of this elected folks having a modicum of sense. It ain’t that way anymore!!!

These fools seem incapable of comprehending that the economy is in the tank, with no relief on the horizon. And calling them out as simply ignorant is perhaps being pretty charitable. It is hard to believe that many of them don’t know good and well that they are destroying America, fully intending to do so, as fast as they can.

Stop spending money and running up America’s credit card with trillions and trillions of debt!!!

Stop drafting thousand-page-plus bills incomprehensible to everyone but the idealogue pols trying to hide their radical agenda for “change” with obscure language that they bury in the bills, including tons of loosey-goosey delegations of authority for bureaucrats and political appointees of the most extremely radical administration in America’s history to fill in blanks to embed its own agenda — not only indebting Americans financial future for generations but also quashing Americans’ freedoms.

Yesterday’s elections are just the beginning. Anything these idiots do will be undone once they are kicked out.

Posted by TParty4USA | Report as abusive

Survivalists will understand The Road; liberals realize too that what McCarthy describes so well — that man is man’s own undoing — is true. http://preparednessnow.blogspot.com/

When a plurality of the country self identifies as conservative, there’s no wonder the democrat party is unraveling. The only cautionary point that the conservative plurality should take to heart. Don’t dilute that plurality, and watch independents jump on board in droves….


A Black president is off America’s back, tried and failed. Now the ONE is about done, so can we get someone with real experience at running government instead of some commie organizer?

Posted by F. Meglin | Report as abusive

I sent a fax with some facts to fox, trying to get them to wake the fox up, but they had all the knobs turned to “full stupid”. Impeach Rush. Impeach Fox. A little less propaganda, and a tiny bit less partisanship, would be helpful from the “No” party. Hey at least come up with a viable alternative. Anyone read about that division over states rights, civil rights, and the recognition of a centralized government? Where’s Sherman when I need a tour of Georgia’s republican headquarters?

Posted by Mike | Report as abusive


What made the 1994 Republican congressional landslide possible was the shift in the independent pro-movement from the 1992 election. If you recall back in that election Ross Perot won 20% of the vote.

Then in 1994 75% of that vote supported the Republican agenda and Newt Gingrich/ contract for America. The Perot voter came about because of the perception of massive federal government expansion and huge deficit spending and the inability of Democrats or Republicans to do anything of substance with regard to a very weak economy which existed before the Clinton Internet boom.

The Perot independent voter is not concerned about the religious issues and when the Republicans become too obsessed with that they walk away from the Republican party. This is what happened in the 2006 congressional elections and 2008 presidential election.

The issues that drive the Perot voter is not just fiscal conservatism… after all many Republicans and Democrats say they are fiscal conservative. What is driving the Perot voter back into the arms of the Republican Party is the belief that Obama has it wrong.

Independent voters which moved en masse to Obama in 2008 did so because they believed he was going to fix the terrible economy left behind by the fiscal incompetence of the Bush administration… the shady secret deals going on Wall Street… the responsible borrowing and leveraging in the brokerage houses and banking firms.

That is why Obama was elected.

The independent and Perot voters have becpme enraged over the bailouts… TARP deals. They didn’t like it when Bush and Paulson came up with this ludicrous plan and the panic because these firms were too big to fail. And when these Perot and independent swing voters voted for Obama many of them believed that he was going to tackle the financial crisis first.

Instead the President has become stuck in the health-care reform debate which while important is not the primary reason why the independent voters supported Obama in 2008.

Posted by WXDAVID | Report as abusive

The conservatives and the republicans have painted this false picture of Barack Obama that does not exist, and I am sick of these conservative crazies blocking progress all the time. Contrary to what the poorly educated conservatives say, all of the problems now are the lag effect of that buffoon George Bush, and the conservative crazies saying no to everything and not even allowing it to have a chance. It is now all the republicans fault and no one else’s, because republicans ran wild from 2001 to 2006, and after the democrats got majorities in the 2006 midterm, buffoon Bush blocked everything passed by democrats and the few moderate republicans in 2007 and 2008, and now all the republicans are saying no to everything, so it is essentially the same now as under president Bush and the republicans. They are making up lies about healthcare and making up BS excuses not to progress on anything. If Americans had any brains, they would not ever even consider voting for a republican or anyone with a conservative ideology. Obviously, many people in America are poorly educated because they think that somehow, after less than a year in office, Obama can wave a magic wand and say, “Okay, everything is fine now”. It will take a long time to undo the terrible damage the republicans and conservatives have done to America. It is unfortunate that many Americans, including the ones posting here on this British news site, are so misguided.

Posted by AngryLiberal | Report as abusive

Yeah, that “Emerging Democratic Majority” is right up there with “The Thousand Year Reich”!

Posted by Matt | Report as abusive

yeah that “Emerging Democratic Majority” is right up there with the “Thousand Year Reich”!

Posted by Matt | Report as abusive

Nice spin, Jim. The Democrats add one more congressman to their majority, and that’s the unraveling of their ‘Permanent Democratic majority’.

Posted by Ken | Report as abusive

“Permanent Democratic Majority” has the same ring as “Thousand Year Reich”.

Posted by Anne | Report as abusive

“Watch for Obama and his financial supporters to create other crisis events if they can keep him in and take the rest of the money out of America.”

OUT OF AMERICA??? what planet do you reich wingers live on? tell you what has take the most money “out of america”…….trillions on pointless wars. that’s what. Obama wants to INVEST IN AMERICA, and reich wingers are jumping up and down crying about government spending.

plus i agree, who in the world suggested a permanent democratic majority? leaders need to deliver on promises, if they don’t they get chucked out. simple. if they screw up, they get chucked out. refer Bush administration.

Posted by Ausdem | Report as abusive

There are no permanent majorities in US politics, despite what Rahm Emmanuel says. If The Great Obama wanted to be absolutely sure of passing socialized medicine, he needed to have his plan ready for enactment on day one. Now his plans are struggling, but still may pass. If these plans run into trouble, Obama still has one big ace in the hole. He could publicly guarantee a Federal Judgeship (75 new ones are being created) to any Democratic member of Congress that loses his seat for helping him pass Obamacare. Then the appointments could be confirmed in the 2010 lame duck session while the Dems still have 60 Senate seats.

Posted by Andrew P | Report as abusive

It IS NOT the Democratic Party, it IS the Democrat Party, by the way there is NOTHING Democratic about the Democrat Party, other than thugocracy, and mob rule. They ARE NOT Democratics, they ARE Democrats. Words mean things, words are not mean things.

If you dispute this you are either to young to remember when it was the Democrat Party or like Helen Thomas too old to remember.

Posted by Rochester | Report as abusive

I lay awake at night worrying about how we will manage in our old age with this administrations greedy takeover of this country. Make no mistake they are systimatic in their Soros funded grab, Maybe now the voters will retake the discussion. The courtry is so angry they are ready to fight in the streets. The media is in the tank, as we know from day one. History will not be kind to the talking heads. This had better turn around now or there will be such trouble we could lose this county.

Posted by janranch | Report as abusive

The phrase ‘permanent Democratic majority’ comes from the press tour for this book: “40 More Years: How the Democrats Will Rule the Next Generation” by James Carville with Rebecca Buckwalter-Poza, (2009). Carville was the architect of Bill Clinton’s 1992 victory over George H. W. Bush. He famously coined the phrase, ‘it’s the economy stupid!’

I tired of Liberals saying Republicans are the party of no. The Democrats have the majority, they could have passed health care reform, Cap and Trade, basically anything they wanted. But leadership takes experience and judgement so face the facts OBAMA has never run a lemonade stand much less a country. No one can expect Republicans to go along with this 90 degree turn toward European Socialist or dare I say Marxist ideas. They and the blue dog Democrats are standing up for the ideas of the American Revolution, free markets and free people created this graet nation and made it what it is today!

You know why GOP govs won? CAUSE THERE ARE NO OTHER OPTIONS!!!!!!! Our party system is so black/white that if a NJ voter has an issue with Corzine the only other option is the GOP. Multi party system to better represent the people.

Posted by ExeterNH | Report as abusive

The chance of an economic recovery that will get unemployment below 10% by next fall’s elections is almost beyond grasp, since the stimulus spending is all for government programs and temporary jobs in construction. There is nothing in them that will encourage investment . Government jobs do not create wealth, only the private sector does that, and in turn pays for the government jobs. So, without wealth creation, the government faces declining tax revenues, slow or zero growth, and at some point its ability to finance spending through debt or inflation will end.
This Administration and Congress just don’t seem to get it. 2010 elections are shaping up to be as historic as 1994 or even more.

Posted by Dakota | Report as abusive

permanent democratic majority is a direct quote from that deuche bag from my home state james carville

Posted by mlb71355 | Report as abusive

This is very good news! We have had a democrat majority and monopoly in our government for the past 80+ years which is why everything is so screwed up. Even with republican presidents they still had to deal with democrats in Congress. Look at city and local governments in Detroit, Chicago, Philadelphia, DC, Baltimore, LA, all of New England, anywhere democrats have monopolized and screwed things up so bad to see what they’ve done. The republicans finally had a razor thin majority in the ’90s and they squandered it by acting like democrats in the end. And having Bill Clinton still in office didn’t help, either. Now there’s a tremendous opportunity in 2010 (and 2012) to really have substantial change and break the strangehold the democrats have had on us forever!

Posted by Al | Report as abusive

We are beginning to wake up as a country. We are all suceptable to nice lies: as people and as a country we tend to believe the pleasant rather than the harsh or real. Barack Obama came to power telling the country what it desparately wanted to hear: that he could be a leader who would lead from the center, an end to gridlock and bitter partisan politics. All smoke. He is a far left Chicago politician. Now we wake up to a country that is being run like a South American dictatorship. We are all urged to trust and follow. He knows better than us and dissenting opinions must be crushed (see Fox News). Happily, we are not as easily lead as Mr. Obama was told; now the fight begins.

Posted by Brian Loss | Report as abusive

Brilliant ANALysis James – Nancy Pelosi gets two more Democrats in the House yesterday (meaning Republicans LOST two) – but all you can do is focus on an election where 70 PERCENT of the voters claimed that Obama and the congress had NOTHING to do with their vote…
So here’s Pethokoukis math: gaining two seats is actually an UNRAVELING…

Posted by Warpublican | Report as abusive

Reasonable, center-right Americans have grown very suspect of an administration that is more focused on implementing ideological policy (Healthcare reinvention and Cap and Trade) and less on creating new and sustainable jobs. When all of the growth in the recent GDP increase comes from growth ONLY in the public sector, I can’t help but question the intention and intelligence of this administration.

Independent, Principled and Proud

Posted by pjean | Report as abusive

“Permanent Democratic majority”? To follow up on Matt Carroll’s observation. Best I can tell to date no one in the D party has made such a specious prediction; only those in the media projecting their prejudice into the debate.

Posted by Jeff Maxim | Report as abusive

The boy-”president”, Jokebama, is an ideological relic of the 60′s. And like much of the 60′s idealism, he’s quickly being exposed as a fad lacking substance.

Posted by Amused | Report as abusive

I agree that Democrats are the problem. We need to get rid of many more of them next year. I don’t want socialized medicine. Under Obamacare, the government plans to deny care to my elderly mother and my young disabled daughter. That’s not acceptable to me, and it’s certainly not freedom.

Posted by Sheri | Report as abusive

Of course Obama was elected in a \”throw the bums out\” environment and because he economy utterly collapsed and the Reps got the blame. It was a rejection of Bush, the iraq war, and Reps in general. It was NOT an endorsement of Liberalism or a call for european-style socialism. This administration and Pelosi are incompetent; the fact that they\’ve completely misread the \’08 election as a mandate for radical Left transformation simply highlights their stupidity. Actually it\’s not stupidity; just ideological blindness from zealots.

Posted by JohnR | Report as abusive

Wow! The “New Normal”. Is that REALLY the Democrat’s new mantra? If so, they’re even dumber than I thought. Everybody here realizes what “New Normal” implies, don’t you? It implies that 10% unemployment is now “normal”. And if it’s “normal”, there’s nothing the pols can/should do about it. We’ll just have to get used to it, and hey, it’s really OK anyway. The irony is that
8-12% unemployment IS perfectly normal…in socialist europe. Make no mistake, the Dems’ primary goal is to leap-frog us into european style socialism and if permanently higher unemployment is part of the price we must pay, Obama/Pelosi are PERFECTLY happy to pay that price.

Posted by JohnR | Report as abusive

Obama is an illegal muslim and must be impeached for non citizenship. Then deported! He can take his hateful fat wife with him, back to Kenya. Read: Her Name is Ms Ann, on YOUTUBE. A MUST READ!

Posted by Peteyk | Report as abusive

I get so frustrated when I hear of people who were Obama supporters, but who now say “this isn’t what I wanted”. This is who Obama was, is, and always will be: a man who is as far left on the political spectrum as there is. Do you remember National Journal rating him as most liberal member of the U.S. Senate? Our country voted for someone totally based on personality and great speeches, and now we all must suffer the consequences. But it is nice to see the voters in New Jersey and Virginia saying “Enough already” to the big spending and gross overstepping kind of government! Maybe there’s still hope for America!

Posted by Steve from Wisconsin | Report as abusive

“Whose quote is “permanent Democratic majority.” Just yours? Why put the phrase in quotes then?”

I dunno. Google says “Results 1 – 10 of about 231,000 for “permanent Democratic majority” when I searched it. 231,000 people can’t be wrong.

“Unemployment is a lagging economic indicator, so the worse it is, the closer we are to recovery. It has always happened that way in every recession. Don’t you know that yet?”

Yeah, and the more you run into a 2,000-mile desert, the closer you are to the other side too. But you’ll wish you had a car before long.

“A looming recovery doesn’t bode well for Republicans.”

The inability of Democrats OR Republicans to figure out how to balance the budget doesn’t bode well for either of them. I’m not voting for a single incumbent until the budget is balanced, whatever the economy is doing.

Posted by Agoraphobic Plumber | Report as abusive

The apportionment of congressional seats is determined by the number of people living in each state, regardless of whether they are citizens.

http://robotspider.typepad.com/robot-spi der/

Posted by Dan | Report as abusive

Obama speant a lot of money for his new Hope and Change and things are worse. That is my bottom line. Give me a job, put money in my pocket, leave my medicare and heathcare alone and get the heck out of life.

Posted by eveh | Report as abusive

Please correct your headline. It is not the “Democratic” party. It is the Democrat party.

Posted by IdahoGal | Report as abusive

The phrase “Permanent Democrat Majority” was chirped by plenty of liberal talking heads who thought that this President and his congressional majority would enjoy an endless love in by the public. After all, who wouldn’t feel the same way as a bunch of liberal journalists and the lefty college professors who taught them? Only problem is, liberals usually have to hide what they really are in order to get elected (sound familiar?) and when they show their true colors once elected by stealth, they usually get stomped by public opinion.

Posted by jwolo64 | Report as abusive

Matt McCall: Dream on. Unemployment is a lagging indicator, but all indications is that this will be a JOBLESS recover! So no new jobs in 2010. DOOM FOR THE MARXIST DEMOCRATS! They couldn’t create jobs if their lives depended on it. All they can do it spend money on crap.

Posted by Jack Smith | Report as abusive

Can you say – “REAGANOMICS”?

Posted by Jim | Report as abusive