Presidential Politics At Turtles
“I’ll give you 5-1 odds Obama doesn’t win the 11th ward next election”----overheard at Turtles this weekend.
If you happen to run into a guy offering you a line like this give us a call. While Pres. Obama is certainly going to struggle with his re-election previous election results tell us there is no precedent for a Democrat to lose the 11th ward let alone one who is the currently the sitting President of the United States. Let’s take a look at the numbers from both sides of this debate.
Presidential detractors will tell you Pres. Obama was not the favorite candidate of local Dem voters last election. Considered too liberal by many to represent a ward that is moderately Democratic and consistently elects the legendary blue-dog Lipinski family to represent them in Congress, Obama lost decisively to Hillary Clinton in the 2008 democratic primary 54% to 41%. Taken in concert with local demographics detractors see what looks like an opportunity for an upset. That could have been possible if Pres. Obama was challenged in another tough primary election but in a general election the numbers just don’t add up.
Over the course of the last 3 presidential general elections Democratic candidates have dominated their GOP rivals in the 11th ward. Obama won 71% of the vote to McCain’s 27% in 2008. In 2004 Sen. John Kerry defeated President Bush by a comfortable 70% to 29%. In the disputed 2000 election that left the nation politically polarized Vice President Al Gore clobbered then Gov. George Bush 76% to 20%. These numbers tell us that the 11th ward has consistently supported the Democratic candidate in presidential elections.
What is also striking is the consistency of the turnout numbers. In 2008, 17,177 voters cast a ballot, in 2004 17,176 votes were cast and in 2000, 17,433 votes were cast. With such consistency in turnout and with the number of registered democratic primary voters ranging at about 10,000 last election you’ll be hard pressed to find any way Pres. Obama doesn’t come through with a victory in the 11th ward.
The question really should be will Pres. Obama break 60% in the ward and if he doesn’t is he toast? With the economy in the gutter, unemployment too high and a general sense of disillusionment hanging over the country Pres. Obama is in trouble. The left is disappointed in his movement toward the political center and the right, far right and farther right are just plain intractable. The President inherited a country with gigantic problems and is steering a course toward recovery that will not happen overnight. Unfortunately, most Yankees are not blessed with the foresight and patience of our rivals from the Far East who think in years rather than days. Instead, political discussion for both parties is a battle for 10 second news clips with very little of substance actually being accomplished.
Locally, what is surprising is that by moving to the political center Pres. Obama is actually more in tune with 11th ward democrats than he was during his last campaign and early period in office. He’s applied critical thought to the nation’s problems and a workmanlike approach to implementing solutions that will help the country recover stronger than it entered this period of decline. This election will be a “titanic struggle” if the GOP does select a worthy candidate to square off with Pres. Obama but there is evidence in the past that the Democrat can prevail in a tough contest. In 1992, a young Gov. Clinton from Arkansas was able to defeat the sitting Republican Pres. George H.W. Bush to win the U.S. Presidency. In that election Gov. Clinton won the 11th ward 60.1% to 24.9% with Ross Perot picking up
While there is no certainty about who will be the next president it’s a good bet to take the 5-1 odds that Pres. Obama wins the 11th ward if you happen to see that guy from Turtles.