President Obama has been taking a beating from Democrats trampling away from him this midterm season, and White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest has gamely perfected his reverse-Rodney Dangerfield routine in recent weeks, insisting that the president gets lots of respect from the one or two Senate candidates willing to be seen in public with him. It's a fine line to dance, supporting candidates who feel they must follow CDC protocols in order to avoid getting Obama cooties. At Tuesday's White House daily briefing, though, Earnest got a chance to challenge the conventional wisdom that has had Democrats fleeing the President like so many sewer rats.
Asked if midterm Democratic defeats in blue states would reflect on Obama's support with the base, Earnest cited a new CNN poll that shows a majority of voters, 54%, saying they were not trying to send a message to the president with their vote, and that "17% of voters said that they were trying to send a message in the context of the election, and that was a message of support."
Then, CNN's Jim Acosta tried a similar line of questioning, asking if today's elections are a "referendum on the president," and Earnest hit him several times with his own poll:
EARNEST: As your own poll that I cited earlier indicates, it is not.
ACOSTA: What about the poll result that shows the American people, though, see the country moving in the wrong direction?
EARNEST: Yeah, but it's tough to discount those CNN polls, isn't it?
Acosta's line of questioning showed an admirable commitment to narrative over data, even his own network's data. Along with that wrong direction result, though (68% say they are "somewhat" or "very angry" about the way things are going in the country today), Congress had a 13% approval rating, versus an 85% disapproval, and Democrats held a six-point advantage over Republicans in the generic congressional ballot. While Obama's approval was only at 45% in this poll, that represents a 10-month high.
The press is right that Democrats have been treating Obama like a jet of Ebola vomit, but what Earnest is subtly hinting at is that maybe they're idiots for having done that, and I would add that they are idiots for following the dippy Beltway conventional wisdom that told them to do that. It is impossible to know where things wouold stand had Democrats not started running away from Obama pretty much as soon as the Affordable Care Act passed, and went into warp drive this midterm.
If they had, instead, embraced the president who saved the economy, campaigned on getting millions of Americans access to health care while bringing costs to a historical low, ended Don't Ask, Don't Tell, fought for gun and immigration policies that everyone supports, et cetera, et cetera, they might not have lost 63 House seats in 2010, or be poised to lose the Senate now. Deranged fake liberal blog Vox says that "Obama has lost more House seats than any president since Eisenhower," but those losses occurred when Obama's name was not on the ballot, and when Democrats were sprinting away from him. When Obama was on the ballot, Democrats picked up 29 seats in the House, and ten seats in the Senate.
If Democrats fail to hold the Senate today, President Obama will definitely be blamed, facts be damned. But those facts suggest that voters, whatever their mood, have a hard time voting for people who don't believe in their own party's accomplishments. There is not a voter alive who buys it when a Democrat goes into the patented "Barack who?" routine, but probably a lot of them who see that sort of disloyalty as a greater character flaw than a mild policy disagreement here or there. Unfortunately, a media this committed to a false narrative will never teach them otherwise.