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Obama’s “Kiss of Death” In Massachusetts

A Commentary By Howard Rich

Friday, January 22, 2010

It’s been a time of Tea parties throughout America, but did anyone really believe that the limited government movement that’s sweeping across the country would arrive at the site of the original Tea party so soon?

Massachusetts? In “red?”

No matter how hard his diminishing flock of supporters tries to spin it, you can thank Barack Obama for that – not only for advancing an overreaching socialist agenda that has galvanized supporters of freedom and free markets like never before, but also for failing to motivate voters inclined to support him and his candidates.

In fact, his campaigning in Massachusetts backfired from the start – turning his endorsement into the “kiss of death.”

Consider for a moment the political impenetrability of this Democratic stronghold: Until yesterday, Massachusetts hadn’t elected a Republican to the U.S. Senate since 1972. Not a single member of the state’s Congressional delegation was a member of the GOP. Barack Obama carried the state by 26% just fourteen months ago, and he ostensibly enjoys a 60% approval rating there.

That’s as blue a state as you’re ever going to find, and polling numbers leading up to this year’s U.S. Senate special election gave no indication that anything was going to change.

As recently as three weeks ago, in fact, underfunded and largely unknown Republican State Sen. Scott Brown trailed popular Democratic Attorney General Martha Coakley by 17%. Back in November – when voters in Virginia and New Jersey were making their voices heard regarding the Obama agenda – Brown trailed Coakley by 31%.

Clearly the rest of America was slipping away from Obama and his Congressional allies, but not Massachusetts. Never Massachusetts, right?

Over the last two weeks, though, something amazing happened – an “independent voice” began to be heard, first faintly, but soon growing louder and ultimately reaching such a crescendo that it drowned out a noisy din of far left attack rhetoric.

Obama turned independents turned into “decideds” against Coakley – as these voters turned a deaf ear to him and to the millions of dollars worth of desperate noise coming from his political machine, which was supposed to be above that sort of “partisan politics.”

In addition to silencing Obama’s left-wing attack dogs, this “independent voice” also drowned out the “popular” President himself, as Obama’s last-ditch effort to save the flailing Coakley campaign resulted in the sudden, decisive end of a filibuster-proof “Obamajority” in the U.S. Senate.

When Obama made the decision to lay it on the line and campaign in Massachusetts, the race was a statistical dead heat, with surveys showing Coakley ahead by one or two points. By the time Obama had returned to Washington, D.C., Brown had opened up a nine-point lead – a margin even Obama’s vaunted union volunteer army and ACORN-led ground game would be unable to erase.

Clearly, the 40% of Bay State residents who claim to oppose Obama turned out to vote in droves, while a significant portion of the 60% who claim to support him either stayed home or ignored his advice.

To fully appreciate Obama’s “kiss of death” in Massachusetts, we need to back up and look at the broader, national picture.

In November 2008 Obama won Virginia by 6% – yet a year later Republicans stormed to a 60-40% victory in the state’s gubernatorial contest, a 26% swing. In 2008 Obama won New Jersey by nearly 16% – but a year later Republicans unexpectedly captured the state’s Governor’s Office by 5%, a 21% swing.

In New Jersey, Obama campaigned aggressively on behalf of incumbent Gov. Jon Corzine, who promptly went on to become the first Democrat to lose a statewide office in the Garden State in 12 years. The same dynamic was at work there: Anti-Obama voters came out in force, while Obama supporters stayed home.

Obviously, much has been made of the fact that Democrats outnumber Republicans in Massachusetts by a 3-to-1 margin.

That’s true, but independent voters outnumber supporters of both parties. In fact, 51% of Massachusetts voters describe themselves as “unaffiliated” compared to 37% who call themselves Democrats and 12% who describe themselves as Republicans.

According to the results of a new nationwide poll from the Wall Street Journal and NBC, Obama’s job approval rating among independents has slipped to 41% – or 12% below what it was a year ago. 1

“My message to my clients? Jump ship now,” one Democratic pollster told the Washington Post. “Obama can’t help you.”2

Indeed. At this point, his support is the “kiss of death.”

Howard Rich is the Chairman of Americans for Limited Government and Liberty Features Syndicated writer.

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Views expressed in this column are those of the author, not those of Rasmussen Reports.

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