In the run-up to the midterm elections, former President Barack Obama jumped into the fray, traveling extensively to promote a number of chosen candidates in competitive races across the United States. Unfortunately for the candidates in question, Obama’s charm offensive failed to inspire. While the former president endorsed five candidates in particularly competitive races, not a single one managed to win election to Federal or state office.
Two of the loses took place in the all-important swing state of Florida. Andrew Gillum, the progressive former mayor of Tallahassee, lost his election to Republican Ron DeSantis. While the loss was a narrow one, it was a loss nonetheless. Furthermore, the heated Senate race in the state saw Senator Bill Nelson, Obama’s preferred candidate, lose the race to former Florida Governor Rick Scott. The Senator has refused to concede as he is demanding a recount that is ongoing at the time of writing.
In Georgia, the former president joined Oprah Winfrey in campaigning for Stacey Abrams, an African-American woman aspiring to become the first African-American female governor of any state in the United States. While Mrs. Abrams had a great deal of star power and favorable news coverage behind her, she failed to gain more than 50% of the vote and Brian Kemp, Georgia’s former Secretary of State, won the race with 50.4% of the vote. Mrs. Abrams, like Sen. Nelson, has refused to concede, arguing that there are many votes that were submitted by early mail but not yet counted. However, it is doubtful that she will win her quest to force a recount, and Brian Kemp has already resigned his current position to start the transition to become governor of the state of Georgia.
Other races that former President Obama got involved included the Senatorial race in Indiana and the gubernatorial race in the state of Ohio. In Indiana, Democrat Senator Joe Donnelly lost his race to Republican Mike Braun by an outstanding 12 percentage points. In Ohio, Republican state attorney general Mike DeWine won the gubernatorial race against Richard Cordray by an impressive five percentage points.
It is worth noting that both Republicans are avid supporters of the President Donald Trump. Mike Braun, a former Democrat, is pro-life and an opponent of the Affordable Care Act. He is in favor of building a wall on the United States-Mexico border and opposes citizenship for DREAMers. Mike DeWine, the governor-elect of Ohio, is pro-life and an opponent of Net Neutrality rules that were imposed by former President Obama and later repealed under President Trump’s tenure.
The fact that former President Obama traveled across the nation to campaign for Democratic candidates in close elections naturally made national headlines. Many journalists provided the former president with a great deal of positive coverage, noting that many voters still miss him. However, while it cannot be doubted that the former president does have massive star appeal, he has clearly lost the luster he enjoyed in the past.
This does not bode well for the Democratic Party in 2020, which at the moment still appears leaderless. It is likely that the DNC will need to continue to rely on former president Obama to galvanize voters, even though he no longer seems to be the secret weapon they were once able to count on.
~ Liberty Planet