Scott Walker demonstrated why he’s suddenly trailing Hillary Clinton by 12 percent in his home state in New Hampshire on Saturday with what will likely be the thesis statement of his attacks against the likely Democratic nominee:
This isn’t the third term of Bill Clinton, this is the third term of Barack Obama.
No matter what universe you live in, this attack is bad politics in multiple ways.
First of all, saying something “isn’t” something gets processed by most people as the exact opposite. We don’t believe that Nixon wasn’t a crook. So by saying this, he’s just reaffirming the association of Hillary Clinton with her husband, the most popular politician in the United States. But he’s also demonstrating the sort of partisanship that has made him so unpopular in his home state, which just happens to be a crucial bellwether swing state..
But, with this awful attack, the least successful governor in the Midwest is proving he knows his audience, which isn’t living in anything that resembles reality.
To the GOP base, Barack Obama is a massive, unquestionable failure — even though the president’s approval ratings are much closer to Ronald Reagan’s than to an actual massive, unquestionable failure — George W. Bush.
At this point in his presidency, Reagan was suffering from disclosures that his administration had secretly sold weapons to an enemy to fund an illegal war. George W. Bush was suffering from being George W. Bush. His disapproval hit 60 percent where it stayed until the financial crisis when it set the record for highest presidential disapproval ever.
Want to freak yourself out? Ask a Republican which was a bigger disaster — Obummercare or the Iraq War?
To Republicans, Obama isn’t just worse than Bush. For them, the defining aspect of Obama’s presidency — Obamacare — is worse than the defining aspect of Bush’s — the Iraq War, even though the Iraq War wasted trillions of dollars and cost of thousands of American lives and Obamacare is doing the exact opposite.
More jobs have been created under Obama than both Bushes combined. Bush blew a record surplus and left the nation with a record deficit. But go ahead and ask a Republican who had a better record on jobs and the deficit. And be prepared with your best “Say what?”
In the latest Gallup poll, only 10 percent of Republicans approve of Obama’s performance, compared to 45 percent of “independent” voters, who tend to lean to the right. Vox‘s Ezra Klein points out that this makes Obama less popular with Republicans than our reviled Congress is with the entire nation. And Hillary Clinton — who is slightly more popular than the president — is experiencing the same polarization.
When Walker speaks to a crowd of Republicans, Obama isn’t just Bush and Nixon combined with Voldemort — he’s bin Laden and Saddam Hussein’s illicit son who has stolen the very pillow Ronald Reagan rested his sweet head on.
As Jeb Bush flounders in the GOP primary, the press wants to make the case that his brother’s legacy is hurting him. But in the latest Bloomberg poll, W. was one of the few national Republicans whose approval isn’t underwater. At 46 percent approving and 46 percent disapproving he has a 10 percent higher net approval rating than his brother.
George W. Bush’s legacy will be a massive, misshapen leg weight in the general election. But have no doubt, Dubya would be rocking this GOP primary. Jeb is losing because he occasionally nods to the center, the way W. did in 2000, and Republicans have moved so far to the right that a guy who as governor who “aggressively intervened in two high-profile cases to prevent a mentally disabled rape victim and a 13-year-old girl from being able to have abortions” isn’t conservative enough for them. Jeb is plenty conservative; he just doesn’t have eight years of purposely alienating liberals fresh in the GOP’s memory, the way his brother does.
Obama isn’t the only issue Republicans are completely disconnected from reality on. Educated Republicans are less likely to worry about or accept climate science. Only Republicans oppose legalization of marijuana. Majorities of Democrats and independents say the rich aren’t paying enough in taxes. A majority of Republicans disagree.
Americans are finally starting to notice that 2014 was best year of job creation this century and optimism about personal finances recently hit an 11-year high.
The more likely a Republican is to vote in a primary, the more likely he is to believe lives in a world where Barack Obama is a bigger threat to his grandkids than climate change is.
This is an era of “negative partisanship” and in elections where most of America comes out to vote, it hurts Republicans. Not just because people disagree with where they stand on the issues, but because most people don’t even understand which way is up in the universe Republicans live in.
[Photo by Gage Skidmore | Flickr]