Skip Navigation

Close and don't show again.

Your browser is out of date.

You may not get the full experience here on National Journal.

Please upgrade your browser to any of the following supported browsers:

This ad will end in seconds
Close X

Not a member? Learn More »

Forget Your Password?

Don't have an account? Register »

Reveal Navigation



Obama's Virginia Versus Ohio Strategy, Take Two

November 18, 2011

Marc has a smart rejoinder to my column this week, arguing that President Obama doesn't necessarily have to make a choice between a blue-collar and white-collar message (an Ohio versus Virginia strategy, as I called it.) As the Obama brain trust in Chicago seems to be saying, the president can walk and chew gum at the same time.

That may be true, but it also may be too clever by half.  First off, the president's favored policies in the first term - cap-and-trade, health care law, a stimulus that hasn't created jobs -- have already alienated many blue-collar voters in the Rust Belt.  His numbers were always weaker than most Democrats with white, non-college educated voters, dating back to the 2008 Democratic primaries.  The first two years of his presidency may have baked that perception in the cake.  So Obama runs the risk of trying to appeal to blue-collar voters when many have already tuned him out - and no amount of sounding populist, reversing ozone regulations or appealing to their innermost fears of a plutocratic Mitt Romney will change that.

Second, on the environment, the president's team has clearly calculated that he's lurched too much to the left on environmental regulation, as neatly outlined by the New York Times' John Broder yesterday.  By reversing themselves on the ozone regulations - and releasing the news late on a Friday afternoon, when few are paying attention - the administration seemed to realize that there's a political cost to being seen as overzealous with environmental regulations - particularly with the very working-class voters they're now looking to win over.

The calculus with Keystone XL came down to Obama looking at the prospect an important part of his base break with him and publicly threaten to sit out the elections.  The cost of inaction would be the less-public break of working-class voters wondering why the administration is punting on the pipeline   They chose the former for obvious reasons but that doesn't mean it comes without a political cost.

 Third, the president's political maneuvering is becoming more and more transparent - and that itself contains risk.  Obama, who ran his 2008 campaign on making tough decisions, now is punting on a fairly straightforward decision on the energy pipeline for political reasons.  Obama the deal-maker has transformed within several months to Obama the Truman-esque fighter.  Obama, who pushed for environmental causes for much of his term, is now backtracking on some, in the wake of weak economy and public resistance to an overreaching government.

More Blogs
Job Board
Search Jobs
Professional Development Program Engineer
American Society of Civil Engineers | Farmington Hills, MI
Biomedical Service Internship Position
American Society of Civil Engineers | Flint, MI
Deputy Director of Transit Operations
American Society of Civil Engineers | San Jose, CA
Structural Engineer
American Society of Civil Engineers | New Haven, CT
Transportation Planner
American Society of Civil Engineers | Salinas, CA
Assessment and Remediation Team Lead
American Society of Civil Engineers | Regina, SK
Quality Systems Manager
American Society of Civil Engineers | Greensboro, NC
Quality Engineer
American Society of Civil Engineers | Attica, IN
Senior Water Resource Project Manager
American Society of Civil Engineers | Fairfax, VA
Civil Engineering
American Society of Civil Engineers | Steamboat Springs, CO
Entry Level Geotechnical Engineer
American Society of Civil Engineers | Albany, NY
Sales Engineer-Process Automation/Instrumentation
American Society of Civil Engineers
Senior Project Manager- Transportation
American Society of Civil Engineers | San Antonio, TX
Materials Engineer 2
American Society of Civil Engineers | IL
Land Surveyor
American Society of Civil Engineers
comments powered by Disqus