Thursday, July 28, 2016

The America I Know

2016 is a referendum on President Obama. Full stop. Although there's been a lot of ink spilled, it's not a referendum on whether or not you trust Hillary Clinton.

That's what the GOP wants it to be about. But that is at most a derivative question. No, it's about Obama, and the America he feels he knows. Our we the America he has always believed he knows, an America of hope, of optimism, of solving problems and correcting injustices, but still always looking forward?

Or is this Crippled America?

That's what it's about. Is this Obama's America or Donald Trump's America? Our we a hopeful, forward looking country, or a scared, jaded, cynical country?

At least some of the early reviews suggest Obama is on the right side of it.

Nate Cohn makes an important point. After all, a very large majority of Americans say the country is on the wrong track. They've said this mostly in every poll since the financial crisis. But on the other hand:

"A majority of voters think the country is on the wrong track. A majority also approves of Obama. The latter is more predictive of elections."

Steph Bello:

"And that "wrong track" question could include both Republicans who hate Obama & leftists who want more progressive change."

Indeed. We don't know why people say the country is on the wrong track. This happened in 2012 too. Most Americans said the economy was on the wrong track. But this didn't help Romney.

Nate Silver and friends don't get it right here. They are right that Obama is Trump's biggest challenge.

But false equivalence misses the point. Harry Enten:

"The main theory: Voters dislikeHillary Clinton and Donald Trump, so Obama looks better by comparison."

No. The comparison that matters is Obama and Trump. Hillary's numbers are not fundamental.

There's no question that the only thing the GOP has had any success on has been driving down her poll numbers-not so much her poll numbers are her favorability numbers.

"They had said this is what they wanted to do-Kevin McCarthy-and thanks to a compliant media they've had some success. A large number of Americans for the short term were convinced that Hillary is somehow a liar and not to be trusted, though she has been the most honest candidate as measured by Politifact, Glenn Kessler, and other fact checkers. "

"But the media played along. Still, all is not lost as these are not static numbers. I suspect you'll see her numbers rise after this week. The media forgets she was very popular as Obama's SOS and throughout her Senate years."

But in any case, this race is not fundamentally about Hillary's character fundamentally. To be sure, it's a potential speed bump-that I think may have been rectified this week. Even Eric Erickson noted this:

The Dems have now spent more time in prime time making the case for Hillary than the GOP did for Trump. They went mostly “not Hillary”

Correct. There was little for Trump. To be sure, the Democrats had more to work with. Trump does it to himself. Hillary's ads are mostly just Trump saying things. Using his own words.

So while the Dems have highlighted Trump's absurdly and threat-and Obama had a strong takedown of Trumpism-they have spent most of the week building up Hillary-as Trump tears himself down every time he speaks.
Like again yesterday with this request for Putin to hack Hillary's emails and give them to the FBI.

2016 is about President Obama and how Americans feel about him and his Presidency. Do they recognize the America Obama feels he knows?

Trump is the anti Obama. The Right hated Obama. Listen to them, listen to Rush Limbaugh, and they think Obama is this Kenyan Muslim Socialist who's destroyed this country.

Indeed, Rush admitted the other day that Trump is not at all a small government conservative, but justified this by saying that as Obama has used the govt to destroy America, Trump has little choice but to use govt himself to conservative ends.

But the opinions of Rush and friends is no trade secret. Does the rest of the country agree?

Byron York wants to think it's yes:

Byron York: Has Obama's act worn thin? President paints rosier picture of U.S. than voters see

But he and conservatives believed that in 2012 too. Americans didn't repudiate Obama then.

Yes, the GOP won big gains in 2014. But Obama's stature has only risen since. He is more popular now than he's been since 2009.

One thing that's undeniable:

If the more optimistic candidate usually wins, Hillary wins in a landslide.

Chuck Todd argues that the dystopian pessimism of Trump has backfired on GOP.

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