Then there was the decision to have Rick Warren deliver the invocation at the inauguration. A masterstroke, I think, for President Obama. It was a signal to evangelical Christians that he intends to be their president, too, and that he sees them as a large and legitimate part of his constituency. But it was also felt, predictably, as a slap in the face by those advocates of gay rights and same-sex marriage who want to ostracize those who, like Warren, have publicly disagreed with them.
The Edison/Mitofsky exit poll tells us that Obama's constituency and the Democratic Party constituency are not precisely coincident. Obama carried voters under 30 by a huge 66 percent to 32 percent margin; he ran ahead of House Democrats among that age group, while running behind House Democrats among voters older than 30. When you look at the state-by-state results, you find evidence that Obama profited from a large turnout by young blacks, many of whom had never voted before and some of whom may not vote again, at least when, as in 2009 and 2010, Obama is not on the ballot. Certainly they didn't turn out in anything like those numbers in the Georgia and Louisiana runoffs.
During the transition period, Obama's poll ratings have soared sky-high, even despite the late unpleasantness of Rod Blagojevich (who was pretty speedily thrown under the same bus as the Rev. Jeremiah Wright). One possible scenario for his presidency is that his poll ratings continue to soar for some time, as Dwight Eisenhower's did for almost all of his eight years.
Back then, many Republicans grumbled that Ike did little to help his party and said, privately, that he was selfish. Eisenhower, I suspect, regarded himself as a unique national figure and believed that maximizing his popularity far beyond his party's was in the national interest. Out there in Hawaii, Obama may feel the same way.
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