Anyone who has been following political news & headlines since Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign for the presidency knows all too well the heavy disappointment his administration has delivered. Some individuals might see Mr. Obama as a traitor to his own political party; he has, after all, gone against campaign promises (Gitmo, Middle-East Policies, job growth, healthcare, etc.) and has consistently played the silly games of politics in negotiations. (Especially with House Republicans post mid-term elections).
But can Obama really be blamed for making different, and sometimes surprising, decisions during his presidency that appear to stem away from what Democrats across the country hold to value? Nate Silver of The New York Times wouldn’t say so.
In actuality, Obama’s political decisions thus far appear to be spot-on with what Nate Silver dubs, “2010 Democrats.”
Mr. Obama is a prototypical, early 2010s Democrat. And although a 2010s Democrat shares more in common with a 1990s Republican than with the Republicans of today, they are still far from alike.
What is perhaps more interesting outlined in this New York Times blog post is the shift of parties on the political spectrum over the past century.
As you can see from the chart produced by DW-Nominate, both parties had seen a shift on their political platforms towards moderance from the 1930s through about the 1990s. Then what do we see happen? We see both parties appear to sway back on track with their normal ideals through the mid-1990s…but at the turn of the century, Democrats change paths once again towards the right; Republicans, at the same time, instead choose to keep their influence where it serves them best — on the extreme right.
What this chart reveals is that Mr. Obama and congressional Democrats are actually in-line with what the current Democrat looks like in the turn of the 21st century — something that looks more like a moderate Republican; one that is more open to negotiation and policies proposed by congressional Republicans.
By this point it would appear that perhaps Democratic Representatives in Congress are not losing touch with the party they represent specifically, but rather the very people they attempt to represent. However, Nate Silver answers that for us, too.
Mr. Obama’s positions are also broadly in line with the median Democratic voter. According to polling conducted by Public Policy Polling, a Democratic-leaning firm, 70 percent of Democrats think Mr. Obama’s positions are “about right”, and those who disagreed were about as likely to say he was too conservative (12 percent) as too liberal (14 percent).
OK, so I guess the Democratic party in general is seeing a shift in their own ideals and values, and not just its representatives over in Washington. But if you take a look at the polling data from a demographic perspective, you’ll see that individuals between the ages of 30-45 and/or over the age of 65 were less likely to hold a favorable opinion of Obama, approve of his job performance as President, and to actually say that he is in-line with the party platform. Given the age of those polled, it tells us that those growing up prior to 1975, in general, appear to have different views of their own political party than do those aged 18-29. This tells me that it is the younger voter populace that is pressing the newly found moderate conservative values onto the Democratic political platform. Whether or not that is good for politics, I am unsure.
What we can be sure of is congressional Democrats are taking a liking to a new platform. I wonder how long until they decide to shift back towards the left…?