29 Oct 2012

Obama’s “Coalition of the Ascendant”

, , , ,

A lot of people have been puzzled by the Obama Campaign’s reliance on trivia and refusal to move toward the center. How can a president presiding over this economy hope to win, especially with a polarizing campaign calculated to turn off centrists?

Stanley Kurtz seems to have found the blueprint for Obama’s strategy (and its raison d’être) in an article in last June’s New York Magazine by John Heileman.

Obama’s strategy, says Heileman, is built around the idea that he can win with a coalition of the “demographically ascendent,” African Americans, Hispanics, women, and young people. To a degree, the bad economy has pushed Obama toward this approach. The obvious hope is that economic weakness can be countered by appeals to socially liberal women and young people on cultural issues. But don’t underestimate the extent to which this strategy is a deliberate decision that could have gone otherwise, as the behind-the-scenes opposition of some Democrats indicates. Obama is clearly willing to abandon centrist voters and place his own likeability at risk for the sake of creating a socially and economically liberal Democratic coalition that would allow him
to govern securely from the left. …

The president is going for broke. He wants to govern from the left and ignore the center. His top strategists promised a campaign that would permit this, and that’s the campaign Obama has delivered. Noticed that Obama has actually doubled down on this strategy when he still might have tried a last-minute pivot to the middle. That’s how badly Obama wants to abandon the center and take this country to the left.


The central Heileman thesis:

In 2008, the junior senator from Illinois won in a landslide by fashioning a potent “coalition of the ascendant,” as Teixeira and Halpin call it, in which the components were minorities (especially Latinos), socially liberal college-educated whites (especially women), and young voters. This time around, Obama will seek to do the same thing again, only more so. The growth of those segments of the electorate and the president’s strength with them have his team brimming with confidence that ­demographics will trump economics in November—and in the process create a template for Democratic dominance at the presidential level for years to come.

Hat tip to Bird Dog.


Please Leave a Comment!

Please note: Comments may be moderated. It may take a while for them to show on the page.

Entries (RSS)
Comments (RSS)
Feed Shark