20 reasons Democrats are the walking dead

November 1, 2010

The final numbers are almost beside the point. Whether Democrats lose one or both houses of Congress, the 2010 congressional midterms will almost surely be an epic rebuke to the party and President Barack Obama. Two years ago, Democrats actually thought they would probably gain seats during these elections, just like Republicans did in 2002. What happened? This, politically and economically:

1. Americans still think the country is headed in the wrong direction. According to a new Washington Post poll, 71 percent of registered voters think the United States is on the wrong track. That’s the same as it was in February 2009 when the economy was shrinking and hemorrhaging jobs.

2. Sustained high unemployment. Ouch. 17 straight months of an unemployment rate of 9 percent of higher, 20 straight months of underemployment of 15 percent of higher. Both numbers are twice as high as what Americans are accustomed to during the past generation.

3. A moribund housing market. According to the S&P/Case-Shiller index of property values covering 20 cities, housing prices are 28 percent below their July 2006 peak.

4. A devastating loss of wealth. Households are 19 percent — or $18 trillion — poorer than they were right before the recession in 2007 thanks to the housing collapse and falling investment portfolios. Household wealth in the U.S. fell another 2.8 percent in the second quarter of this year.

5. The infamous Bernstein-Romer chart. Back in January 2009, White House economists Jared Bernstein and Christina Romer released a report that included a chart predicting the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act would keep the unemployment rate below 8 percent. That forecast created a metric that has come to define whether the stimulus plan is considered a success of failure. The current White House forecast, by the way, assumes the rate will not fall below 8 percent until 2013.

6. Americans think the stimulus has pretty much failed. Some 68% of likely voters think the money the federal government has spent on the economic stimulus has been mostly “mostly wasted.” (ABC News/Washington Post Poll. Sept. 30-Oct. 3.)

7. Obama’s unpopular and off-point agenda. Democrats love to say how productive Congress has been. But apparently it has been passing stuff Americans don’t really want. They don’t like healthcare reform (56 percent to 39 percent), bank bailouts (61 percent to 37 percent), or the auto bailouts (56 percent to 43 percent), according to Gallup.

8. The astounding budget deficit. Politicians are usually dubious about whether Americans really care about the deficit. The Tea Party movement showed otherwise. Numbers in the trillions are so mindboggling ginormous that they undercut confidence in the economic progress that has been made. Americans know such debt levels are unsustainable.

9. A collapse in the belief in government efficacy. Obama was from the government and he said he was here to help. He represented a swing back in the pendulum toward faith in what Uncle Sam can do. But a Gallup poll finds that 59 percent of Americans think government has too much power, up from 50 percent when Obama took office. And 78 percent trust government only “some of the time or never.” That’s the same as in 1994 and 20 points higher than when Ronald Reagan was elected in 1980. (New York Times-CBS Oct. 21-26.)

10. A rise in the belief that government is too meddlesome. The new WaPo poll also asked “what do you think is the bigger risk — that the Democrats will put in place too many government regulations, or that the Republicans will not put enough government regulations in place?” 52 percent said Democrats, 35 percent Republicans.

11. Lots of vulnerable House Democrats. There are 48 Democrats in seats won by both John McCain in 2008 and George W. Bush in 2004. After big Democrat wins in 2006 and 2008, it was time for some mean reversion.

12. The Greek debt crisis. Debt problems in Greece and other European countries have provided a vivid warning that high government debt levels can lead to financial crisis. Budget hawks no longer have to make theoretical arguments. They just have to point to the business pages.

13. The stimulus was poorly designed. The infrastructure spending took too long, and the tax credits were saved at an even higher level than the Keynesian rebates in the 2008 Bush stimulus plan, 13 percent to 25 percent. And sweeping cuts to marginal income and investment tax rates were never considered.

14. Americans are ready for Washington to be downsized. By 55 percent to 36 percent, respondents say they would rather have smaller government providing fewer services than the opposite. (New York Times-CBS Oct. 21-26.)

15. The Gulf oil leak was no Hurricane Katrina, but it was pretty bad. Not only did the environmental disaster cut against Obama’s image of technocratic competence, but distracted from the administration’s “Recovery Summer” tour.

16. White House overconfidence. As recently as last spring, the White House was confident that the economy was turning its way and would help Democrats keep control of Congress. So no final effort was made for fiscal action to boost growth. This same unfounded optimism led them to create a stimulus in 2009 that was as much about rewarding interest groups (public employee unions, greenies) as boosting growth.

17. The creation of toxic levels of business uncertainty. American companies are sitting on $2 trillion in cash. They don’t know what’s going to happen with the deficit, Bush tax cuts or how the new healthcare and financial regulations are going to play out. They also think the president doesn’t quite understand their role in the U.S. economy. Said Intel CEO Paul Otellini recently, “The decisions so far have not resulted in either job growth or increased confidence. When what you’re doing isn’t working you rethink it and I think we need to rethink some plan.”

18. Obama misunderstood his mandate. Americans voted for Democrats to get the economy fixed, not to use the crisis to redistribute wealth and implement the Mondale-Dukakis-Kerry agenda of nationalized healthcare and industrial policy.

19. The Internet. It allowed thousands of average Americans to organize and network into what became the Tea Party movement.

20. America is a center-right, aspirational nation. Democrats thought the financial crisis and near-landslide 2008 election meant it somehow wasn’t anymore. So they attempted to graft an essentially artificial, elitist (especially cap-and-trade) agenda onto the body politic. It didn’t take and is in the process of being rejected.


We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/

I agree with all stated above, and will only add if the Republicans do not do something to reduce spending, size of government, health care, we may end up with a true third party that may put the first two out of their missery.

Posted by jerrywilhite999 | Report as abusive

Is their a brain behind the writer? Or did some program just transcribe all of Fox’s greatest hits talking points? What absolute garbage!!!! If democrats lose big, it is cetainly not because of any of the radical right-wing points above. It is the lousy state of the economy. (Go read Stiglitz or Roubini, if you need to understand a thing or two about the decline of our economy) The US is a rotting empire. In thirty years, most South American country will have a greater GDP than the US, let alone all of Asia and Europe. Anyone who has lived and traveled between the Europe and US over the past 20 years, can see the flagrant decline in the US, its standard of living, its infrastructure. With the rethugs back in power, we will at least hasten our demise, and serve as a countermodel for all other democracies.

Posted by harry20011 | Report as abusive

What a superb article.

As a very interested Canadian watching this election closely, I can only hope the repudiation of Mr. Obama and the Democrats will be of an epic nature, one for the history books.

Posted by Gotthardbahn | Report as abusive

That said, nothing the Republicans have done has changed the essential nature of the contest: the Out Party winning by default because they don’t have the power and aren’t to blame for the Mess We’re In.

Republicans will need to start stepping up, and I say this as a lifetime GOPer. That doesn’t mean caving to every WH demand, either.

Posted by section9 | Report as abusive

In their big victory in 2008, Democrats had no clue why their failure was inevitable. The Left does NOT understand a basic truth American politicians, be they Jackass or Pachyderm should never forget: Whatever the political bent of the American citizen, we REFUSE to be anything but prosperous, and REFUSE to be anything but free… just far too many want someone else to pay for it.

With the explosion of debt and spending, a lack of confidence that “someone else” (or anyone) could pay for “it” has multiplied. Obama(Pelosi/Reid, etc.) “championed policies” (ObamaCare/Cap’n trade) in effect has offered only high unemployment and a sad possibility of grim rationed subsistance! That may play OK in Greece, but not in the good ole USA!

Posted by FiddlePig | Report as abusive

Yes. This is a superb piece.

Posted by primo.baebi | Report as abusive

Coming from people who live amongst zombies and tombstones and should recognize the dead when they see their own, that’s a pretty good mind trick. Can you do some more of those verbal tricks with rabbits and hats as we make our way to the polls and vote straight Democrat party tickets this mid-term?

And I doubt that I am the only one who will…Here’s wishing and hoping and planning and thinking that not one single Republican wins a significant majority in the House or Senate in 2010.

Posted by sspsllc | Report as abusive


They already repudiated him in “epic” proportions over and over and over and over… They’ve been doing that for two whole years. That’s not news, that’s the same old thing on a different day.

Posted by sspsllc | Report as abusive

Obama symbolizes everything that the uneducated racist people in the US hate and fear – namely that their minority and immigrant neighbors are getting ahead socially and economically

Those uneducated racists are the dry powder for the tea party explosion and the big swing factor in this election

McCain did not get them going but Palin does and that is the difference

God help the USA because our citizens will not

Posted by dallasdave | Report as abusive

# 20 and 18 should be at the top
BTW things were not so bad in 2006; then Pelosi and Reid became Leaders, and Frank and Dodd became Banking & Finance Committee Chairman, and in nine months, we have a recession!

Posted by TheOnlyModerate | Report as abusive

The core policy of the Democratic party is ‘we feel sorry for these people, let’s give them something”.

From: http://www.theroot.com/views/root-interv iew-valerie-jarrett

“Valerie Jarrett, who has known Barack Obama for nearly 20 years, is not only one of the president’s senior-most advisers but also one of his closest friends.”

“Valerie Jarrett: The way the president has described it to me is more along the lines of focusing on a new foundation for our country. And if you look at the major pieces of legislation that have moved through Congress in the last 21 months, they disproportionately do help the African-American community.”

I’m quoting a senior official from the Obama administration directly here, but feel free to call me a racist anyway.

When your policy is directed to benefiting a minority of about 12% of the population at the expense of the majority, which is what health care ‘reform’ in particular did, expect to see some backlash. Hopefully these guys will be out of power soon, and not get it back for a looong time.

Posted by ARJTurgot | Report as abusive

More disinformation…

Most voters are simply misinformed. They don’t believe Obama cut taxes and they don’t believe the economy has expanded because of them. The economy is simply not growing fast enough to drastically cut into the unemployment rate, but it is growing albeit slowly, and Democrats are a disaster when it comes to highlighting their accomplishments. It’s sad. They have done great things for the middle class, especially.

Posted by SouthernBella | Report as abusive

Most Americans were voting for a “reset” of the political/government structure when they elected Obama. We didn’t get it. But now folks think they can vote for the GOP that gave us the record Bush deficits and huge, ever more expensive/extensive war industry and get “change” (And this includes the poorly veiled, hijacked Tea Party folks, funded by the billionaires and corporate interests enabled by that Supreme Court ruling that gave big industry/pharma/military the financial standing of “persons” that can spend unlimited bribery monies, er, I mean contribution dollars). We won’t have a stable and rational approach to government in the US until we develop a medium range plan to radically downsize bureaucracy, entitlements and world military police status, ban earmarks, stop subsidy programs and, side-by-side transition these elements of our workforce to sustainable livelihoods. With our current abilities and encouragement of technological advances we can make something like a 5 acre “farmette” a pretty sweet environment for example. We also need to change our welfare programs significantly, providing a respectable subsistence living environment (think poor farm here) that nonetheless encourages and assists “recipients” to become contributors to their own welfare.

Posted by GlobalVillager | Report as abusive

This should guarantee that this un-biased reporter continues to be invited back to fox news. Perhaps he has his own show lined up alredy.

Posted by fromthecenter | Report as abusive

Gee Mr. Pethokoukis, you sure know a lot about the economy and politics and stuff. I guess the Northwestern school of journalism really gave you a good education.

Posted by richardford111 | Report as abusive

“This should guarantee that this un-biased reporter continues to be invited back to fox news. Perhaps he has his own show lined up alredy.”

Don’t know about you, but I had to click on the heading “Analysis and Opinion” to get to this columnist. Those are two clear hints that he is not an ‘un-biased reporter’. Good luck with your search though.

Posted by GaryD-Seattle | Report as abusive

1) Yes, but it started with Reagan. Now we have no choice but to vote out incumbents.

2) Yes, because neither party will do anything to reduce outsourcing. Democrats are outsourcing apologists and Republicans are actively complicit. What a choice!

4) Yes, but those bailouts started with Bush II. Obama was clueless to continue them, but Bush II needed to pay back his pals on Wall Street.

7) Don’t beat around the bush. Obama’s priorities include repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and installing women on submarines. Those may or may not be good things to do — I vote for not — but they hardly rise to the top ten.

8) Fox News’ propaganda has been quite successful here. Reagan and Bush II cut taxes, creating monster deficits, but Fox News has been able to convince voters that Obama is the only president to create deficits. Here’s a news flash: the only budget surpluses since WWII were in 1947-9, 1951, 1956-7, 1960, 1969, 1998-2001. Reagan, Bush I, and Bush II never had a budget surplus.


Posted by saucymugwump | Report as abusive

In case anyone cares, the last paragraph in my post was started by the number eight followed by a right parenthesis. Reuters’ braindead website converted it into a moronic smiley face.

Posted by saucymugwump | Report as abusive

The Democrats lied? No, the deadbeats lied on their mortgage apps. The mortgage brokers and real estate agents lied. The loan officers lied. The servicers lied. The bankers and the securitizers lied. And because they all lied, responsible people had to do really awful things to save us from ourselves. Americans are in deep denial and changing the party in congress will do nothing to change that. Good luck, deadbeats, and good riddance!

Posted by silliness | Report as abusive


Posted by Butch_from_PA | Report as abusive


Posted by Butch_from_PA | Report as abusive

Sad to say, the Obama/Demo national leadership model reeks of the same kowtowing to Big Money he was elected to reign in. How sad is that.

Posted by Woltmann | Report as abusive

The democrats will lose for two reasons:

– They failed to educate the public on the good things they were doing.

– They failed to take any moral stands on those issues when pressed.

All the facts point to a better economic situation due to Obama’s policies, along with improve health insurance coverage, stronger protection from predatory loans and credit cards, and better regulation of the financial sector. But too many people take spin over fact, and the democrats have completely folded. Too many people who are more worried about their image than actually making America better.

While I’m disappointed in the Democrats, I’m still furious at Republicans. In all this time, they could have presented better ideas, but they didn’t. If they win, we’ll only get more of the same bad policies that created this mess.

Posted by TrueIronPatriot | Report as abusive

The Repubs think that have been given a mandate and will face the same fate if they don’t listen to the independent voters who really controlled this election. This will not be business as usual. Classical liberals will take back their rightful ownership of liberalism from the Socialists.

Posted by Jimymac | Report as abusive

Five Reasons why Repubulicans are the walking jerks.

1. Their brains are soaked in Alchohol and drugs.

2. The all beleive “I must work harder” Fox News is alway right.

3. They steered the US Titanic Economy into in Iceburg then abandoned ship and blamed it on the Democrates.

4. They want everyone who is in the Richmans club to live in tents and eat in food pantries that are not supported by the government.

5. When you are of no use to the Republicans anymore, they will send you to the glue factory.

Posted by demitry | Report as abusive

The nation is “center-right aspirational”? Does that translate to pro-war idiots who only care if they can afford a bigger house/car/TV? Yes, that sounds about right. And look what it has done for us. We are disintegrating literally, figuratively,and quickly.

Posted by falconium | Report as abusive

The democrats and the Obama Administration have become the scapegoat for all that is perceived to be wrong with the country.
Americans are mad at they don’t know what. We strike about wildly, like a blind snake. The Democrats and Obama are the current targets. If the Repubs retake the House and maybe the Senate, conditions probably will not improve quickly and the people will have new targets.
The problems with the country are as much the peoples fault as the politicians. We want government big enough to handle hurricanes,prevent oil spills, fight terrorism, make war and give us everything we want, dependent on the government, but, rebelling against it like teenagers rebelling against parents. We want total security, total freedom and no personal responsibility.
The country is becoming ungovernable.
What are the answers? I do not know. Voting out every incombant politician is not the answer. We will just get another set of more inept bums. Nothing can be done about the problems until we, the American people, are better educated in the issues and what the options are.
We have to collectively take a more objective evaluation of the problems and stop acdepting at face value every chain email that come around.

Posted by mrbud66 | Report as abusive

America is on the eve of voting itself into third-world status…. BTW, did you know that the Germans actually ‘elected’ A. Hitler in 1933…

Posted by edgyinchina | Report as abusive

OK, Obamacare is not the best reform (naturally, with public option included it would be much better). But I challenge Republicans and Tea Partiers explain why this country cannot have an efficient and really affordable healthcare for everyone and great many other countries can. Are we damned, doomed, controlled by our egoistical instincts, manipulated by special interests, or just mean and stupid?

Posted by Heretic1 | Report as abusive

Come on! The election is a non-event. There is no significant difference between the “two” parties other than their mascots.

Nothing will change until either the powerful change, or the “election” system does. These people think their creation is immortal. Of course, it is most definitely not.

Posted by txgadfly | Report as abusive

Let’s all stop spending money! That should really get the economy moving. Maybe the Federal Reserve should just go ahead and pay off all the government’s debt tomorrow so that we can all stop talking about it. Then we can cut taxes too.

Posted by mrmanbearpig | Report as abusive

As we used to say back in the 60s…if voting could change the system, it would be illegal.

Posted by scarr34 | Report as abusive

The author of the article has pointed 20 reasons for Democrats walking dead but has failed to suggest remedies for all. Suppose he had been in place of Obama what he would have done? It is very easy to criticize but difficult to perform in the war ravaged economic crisis,banks failures,housing mortgage crisis, rising unemployment and fiscal deficit and continuous war in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as peak level of sovereign debt handed down to him when got elected. Magical expectations rarely fructify!

Moreover final decisions are taken by the house and congress approval.Why all those who blame singlehandedly on president Obama & his policies failed to muster the majority opinion against those policies and obstruct at that stage instead of blaming when it went wrong? Why they don’t like to share blame? Does that mean, be Democrats or Republican, go for the party only and not for the policies which are for the best of the country?

I feel America at present needs a third alternative; neither Democrats nor Republicans, to bring it out of the present mess or be prepared to compromise for the fall of its superpower empire with tunes of the coming times!

Posted by vksaini | Report as abusive

Obama’s in trouble because he is black. One only needs to read the bigoted filth covering the internet discussion groups that radical lunatic groups like Fox news, Limbaugh forment to realized that for large segments of the population, the civil rights movement of the 60’s was the start of the downfall of America.

Obama’s in trouble because the Robert’s court has opened the floodgates of unregulated money, which has saturated the media with misleading ads supported by shadow donors. The sad reality is that for a good number of folks, if you tell they anything (e.g. Obama is a Muslim, Obama is a non-US citizen, Michelle O has more staff than here predecessors, “cattle guards”), they will come to believe it.

Obama’s in trouble because many Americans have be convinced that the same strategy of wealth redistribution to the very wealthy that got us into this mess, will somehow get us out.

Posted by URKiddinRight | Report as abusive

2, 12, 16, 19, 20. Very strong (and probably underestimated) points. What a fantastic article, concise, to the point, not to much garbage opinion, I’m a big fan.

(And I do not know why Obama’s race came up in any comments for this article, completely irrelevant).

Posted by dlewis17 | Report as abusive

There was this German chancellor in the 70s, Helmut Schmidt, who once said “What do you expect from the people? People are stupid!” He was referring to voters. There was a big outcry at the time in Germany in response to his statement. But quite frankly, I am starting to think he was right. Most people do not have an education in economics or politics. How could they know what would have happened if the banks and the car industry had not been bailed out?
Fact is, the whole recession would have been several times worse and it would have pulled the rest of the world down with it.
But people will vote for the Republicans today because a lot of them still think that everything will go back to the way it was.
Helmut Schmidt was right.

Posted by Rhino1 | Report as abusive

This article is a prime reason why I don’t think AP and Reuters should blur what they do by allowing editorial and opinion based content to appear under their banner.

Posted by StevenLeser | Report as abusive

[…] Read more here… Social Networking: […]

Posted by The Absurd Report » Update: 20 reasons Democrats are the walking dead | Report as abusive

Reason #21:
Americans are ignorant, impatient, mindless drones who believe anything people tell them that sounds good at the time.

Posted by roshambo | Report as abusive

[…] I happened to stumble across an unsavory political article on a Reuters blog at http://blogs.reuters.com/james-pethokouk is/2010/10/31/20-reasons-democrats-are-t he-walking-dead/ […]

Posted by An Open Letter to the Voters of the USA | newearthchanges | Report as abusive


Your analysis is excellent, very diagonostic however could you come up with soutions, high labor rate drove away manufacturing, call centre, medical transcription and BPO jobs. Korean and Japanese companies sell well in the US, do you suggest a protectionist policy, so that national financial deficit comes down?

Arvind Pereira

Posted by pereiraarvindin | Report as abusive

“When your policy is directed to benefiting a minority of about 12% of the population at the expense of the majority, which is what health care ‘reform’ in particular did, expect to see some backlash.”

It’s fascinating the way people say things like this to implicate a black agenda when that same 12% of the population has been more likely to work full time without health care benefits, disproportionately more likely to lose work in this economy, which has led to a high loss of homes. And that same 12% has suffered a huge increase in hate crimes all at this same exact time.

It has been clear to blacks from the start that Obama could never be seen to show favoritism towards blacks. He is the President of the United States of America, not the black president.

Posted by tangerinesunset | Report as abusive

U.S. Big Issues:
• Taxes
• Entitlement Programs
• Defense Spending
• Discretionary Spending
• Government Waste, Fraud and Abuse

Posted by Stamper | Report as abusive

can we please fast forward to the next election so we can completely vote the democrats out and get back to work already?

Posted by zotdoc | Report as abusive