Democratic Strategist: Party In 'Considerable Risk' After Obama

Image: Democratic Strategist: Party In 'Considerable Risk' After Obama

Saturday, 11 May 2013 11:03 AM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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A key Democratic strategist is warning that his party is at "considerable risk" and "in decline" and will face problems once President Barack Obama leaves office.

Doug Sosnik, who served as political director for former President Bill Clinton's administration, noted in a memo that since Obama was elected president, Democrats have lost nine governors' seats, 56 House positions and two Senate seats, reports Politico.

In addition, the Democratic Party's favorability rankings are in a sharp decline. Since Obama was elected, the rating has gone down by 15 points, with a Pew Research Survey in January showing 47 percent of Americans – down from 62 percent in January 2009 – view the party favorably.

Such numbers are leading Sosnik to expect 2014 to become the fourth change election year in the past eight years.

"This puts Senate Democrats in a vulnerable position, while threatening Republican’s control of the House as well as their sizable numerical advantage in the governorships across the country,” wrote Sosnik, who was Hillary Clinton's adviser in the 2008 presidential race and who now does consulting work for private-sector clients.

Obama's campaign style may also be hurting his own party, said Sosnik.

The president created Organizing for Action, a political group made from his campaign workers, to push his own agenda. But many in the party believe Obama's group bypasses the Democratic National Committee and takes away from Democrats' fundraising issues.

“Obama not only got elected by running against the party establishment, but he has governed as a President who does not emphasize his party label,” said Sosnik . “It’s hard to be a change agent if you are lugging around a party label in an era where voters are so strongly disaffected from our institutions.”

In addition, Sosnik said, Obama is popular, but his personal record isn't translating well for other candidates. He further said the president isn't working to build the party so it will thrive once he leaves office.

Also, losses in the 2010 midterm elections meant Republicans have control of states' redistricting processes until after the 2020 census, giving them an advantage when it comes to keeping a House majority.

Democrats also can't count on their usual supporters, said Sosnik . Voters born between 1965 to 1994 are voting Democrat, for the most part, but many call themselves independent, meaning their votes could swing. In addition, he said, Democrats can't count on the same level of African-American voters without Obama running, and younger Hispanics feel less of an allegiance to the Democratic Party.

Democrats may also have trouble finding a top candidate to run in 2016 if Hillary Clinton decides not to run, said Sosnik .

He also pointed out that Obama doesn't have a "clear mandate to govern over a politically divided Congress," and that “there’s not a single member of either party who fears paying a political price for not falling in line with the President, making it even more difficult to get members to cast difficult votes.”

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