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The Obama Undertow and the 2012 Elections

A few weeks ago, Senator Kent Conrad of North Dakota announced he will not seek re-election in 2012. A few days ago, Representative Jane Harman of California announced she will resign immediately. And today Senator James Webb of Virginia announced he will not seek re-election in 2012, “confirm[ing] the news Democrats have been dreading for weeks,” according to Politico. Taken together, the resignations of these Democratic lawmakers are signs of a damaged party, one that is getting weaker rather than stronger.

The Obama Undertow is alive and well.

The most interesting state to consider may be Virginia. President Obama carried Old Dominion in 2008; it was said to be emblematic of the rise of the Democratic Party under Obama, with formerly Red States like Virginia trending Blue. But then came the hard part, governing — and with it, the collapse of the Democratic Party in states like the Commonwealth, where in 2009 Bob McDonnell won a crushing (17 point) gubernatorial victory, Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling won his re-election bid almost as easily, and Ken Cuccinelli beat his Democratic challenger by 16 points. That was followed by the 2010 midterm elections, where Republicans picked up several House seats, including in Virginia’s 2nd and 5th Districts.

Senator Webb clearly senses which way the political winds are blowing — in the face rather than at the backs of Democrats in Virginia and in states beyond Virginia.

Thanks to Mr. Obama, these are not good years to be a Democratic lawmaker.



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