Obama Campaigned for Four Democrats in Close 2018 Races. They All Lost.

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Posted: Nov 19, 2018 2:05 PM
Obama Campaigned for Four Democrats in Close 2018 Races. They All Lost.

A few people wrote pieces on this theme just after the election, but a few key results were still outstanding up through this past weekend, so I decided it was wiser to refrain from dunking on Barack Obama until we had finalized results.  And now we do.  May the dunking commence.  Ah, but first, a few caveats: Not everyone Obama stumped for this fall ended up losing their races.  For instance, the 44th president rallied for victorious Illinois Democrats, including the party's gubernatorial nominee, but that race was literally never close.  The same applies to the Virginia Senate race, where Tim Kaine didn't need much help in blowing out the GOP's deeply flawed nominee (although I guess you could say the VA-10 race was relatively close).  But in the highest-profile, hyped-up races in which Obama chose to directly intervene, he went 0-for-4.  A recap:

(1) Florida Senate - Obama went all-in for Bill Nelson over the home stretch, enthusiastically endorsing the longtime incumbent and urging Floridians to reject Rick Scott. Here he is at a Miami rally warning voters that if they are victorious, Republicans would seek to steal people's healthcare:

Speaking of healthcare, Obama's signature accomplishment flopped on the merits throughout his presidency, then became less unpopular after he left office, following a series of changes to the law.  He has since effectively admitted failure, embracing a reckless single-payer healthcare scheme to replace his own law, thus destroying America's private system and requiring giant tax increases on working Americans.  Nelson led by roughly 2.5 points in the final polling average, but Rick Scott won the election, pushing Nelson into retirement.

(2) Florida Governor - Along with his efforts to re-elect Sen. Nelson, Obama pushed hard for the up-and-coming, left-wing Mayor of Tallahassee, Andrew Gillum, the Democrats' gubernatorial nominee.  Gillum faced ethical headwinds in the final weeks of the campaign, to which he responded by playing the race card.  Obama went all-in for Gillum, who led in 16 of the final 17 polls of the state, amassing an apparent edge of close to four percentage points.  He lost to Republican Ron DeSantis.

(3) Indiana Senate - Publicly-available surveys showed incumbent Sen. Joe Donnelly -- one of the red state Democrats who voted against Justice Kavanaugh -- in a tough dogfight.  Leading up to election day, polls showed a close contest, so when the Donnelly campaign announced that Obama was going to come to the Hoosier State for a rally, many observers concluded that the Senator's campaign's data indicated a need to boost support and turnout within certain elements of the electorate.   Here's Obama telling Indianans that the 2018 election was the most important of their lifetimes, and that they needed to send Donnelly back to Washington for six more years:

Two days later, voters in the state elected Republican Mike Braun by nearly six percentage points.  The GOP nominee outperformed his polling average by roughly seven points.

(4) Georgia Governor - This race is finally over, even though defeated Democrat Stacey Abrams pointedly declined to concede, amid a swirl of conspiratorial delegitimization from prominent Democrats.  Obama and Oprah Winfrey were among Abrams' prominent backers -- but as was the case with their support for Chicago's olympic bid, they fell short.   Incidentally, because the "Kemp voter suppression" line has taken deep root on the Left, some facts are worth reiterating.  Read this piece and this column, then consider these points:


It's also unclear how the statistic about more than 200 polling places being closed over the last six years has anything to do with Governor-elect Kemp.  As for the wider "suppression" claim, John Podhoretz snarks:


In summary, Barack Obama has -- very predictably -- been engaged in far more direct partisan activism and criticism of his successor than is traditional.  He's weighed in on political matters relatively often, sometimes with characteristic tendentiousness, since leaving office.  Some things never change.  And one of those things, it seems, is Obama's reverse Midas touch on fellow Democrats.  His party lost approximately 1,000 legislative seats at the federal and state levels during his eight years (Democrats have made some headway in state chambers over the last two years, but not nearly as much as they'd have liked), having gotten especially decimated during midterm election cycles.  The opposition had a pretty good night nearly two weeks ago, but that success didn't apply to the four candidates in competitive races that Obama chose to grace with his presence.  I'll leave you with this biting yet accurate zinger from Allahpundit: "Barack Obama: Delivering big for the Republican Party every four years since 2010. The only thing he’s more effective at selling than GOP candidates in midterms is guns."

Obama has demonstrated that he's adept at getting one Democrat elected: Himself.