Right-wing pundits are pointing to Martha Coakley's loss in the Massachusetts Senate race as evidence that President Obama and congressional Democrats should move to govern from the center, despite the fact that exit polls show that the Massachusetts election was not a referendum on Obama.
Right-wing pundits say election result is a mandate for Obama and Democrats to govern from the center
Fox & Friends: "A lot of people are saying" the "only solution" for Obama is to "find some more common-ground reforms in the middle." On Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Gretchen Carlson said that "a lot of people are saying" that "the only solution" for Obama is to move to the center, adding, "He, by all accounts, was voted into office by the independents who thought that that was the kind of president he was going to be." Later, Carlson said, "You know, look at Bill Clinton. We've been talking about this for the last couple of days. He had a bad first year, by many accounts as well, and then he sought common ground and really went for those bipartisan -- the bipartisan approach. Will Barack Obama do that?"
From the January 20 broadcast of Fox & Friends:
STEVE DOOCY (co-host): Well, so many are not spinning today, they're just flat-out blaming. A number of Democrats are coming out, and they're saying, look, here's who blew it, because we put so many eggs into that basket. You know, the whole health care debate now is going to go forward -- or is it?
Well, Lanny Davis has written something. He says blame the left for Massachusetts, because the Democrats should be willing to be less lefty and find some more common-ground reforms in the middle.
CARLSON: A lot of people are saying that that will be the only solution now for Barack Obama. He, by all accounts, was voted into office by the independents who thought that that was the kind of president he was going to be. Now, many of them don't see it that way. Was it the power that he had in having full control of the House and the Senate -- or was his -- his progressive ideology?
That's what some people are asking today, and whether or not those two things will now have to change. Will he listen to Lanny Davis, who says in his column, "it's the substance, stupid" -- not speaking directly to the president, but in general, saying --
BRIAN KILMEADE (co-host): More like to us.
CARLSON: -- to us, it's the substance. You know, look at Bill Clinton. We've been talking about this for the last couple of days. He had a bad first year, by many accounts as well, and then he sought common ground and really went for those bipartisan -- the bipartisan approach. Will Barack Obama do that?
Kristol: Obama has to "pivot" and "work with Republicans on some more moderate measures." Also on Fox & Friends, Fox News contributor Bill Kristol said that in the upcoming State of the Union address, Obama has to say, "I hear you. You know? I thought we were doing the right thing, but I guess people aren't quite where I am in terms of this massive overhaul of the health care system. And let me pull back and work with Republicans on some more moderate measures. He could put Republicans in a pretty difficult position if he says, let's go with some insurance reforms. Let's go with some bipartisan efforts to curb Wall Street excesses. I think a lot of moderate Republicans and some conservative Republicans, incidentally, would then -- under pressure to work with President Obama. Can he pivot? I think that's a matter of temperament, and I think getting rid of some of that arrogance that they've had."
Karl Rove: The "message of this moment" for Democrats is to "change their ways and try to govern from the center." On the January 19 broadcast of Fox News' On the Record, Fox News contributor Karl Rove said, "This could be a great moment for the Democrats if they sort of realize what is carried in the message of this moment, and change their ways and try to govern from the center and govern in a bipartisan fashion as they led the American people to expect they would do."
Van Susteren: Obama "would be very smart" to "see how former President Clinton handled" the congressional loss in 1994. Responding to Rove on On the Record, host Greta Van Susteren said, "Yeah, I suppose the president would be very smart to sort of look back in history and see how former President Clinton handled it ... when he took that hit with the Congress in '94." Rove replied, "Right. I mean, in 1995 and '96, he came back in and had productive sessions on the budget, passed welfare reform. But he did move back to the center. After going to the left in his first two years and losing the Congress, he came back ... to the center. I don't think this president is capable of doing that." Van Susteren agreed that, "He's going to have to."
Stuart Varney: Loss means Dems will be "forced to move back to the center because they need re-election in November." Discussing the Massachusetts race on Fox News' Hannity, Fox business contributor Stuart Varney said, "Congress will be forced to move back to the center because they need re-election in November," and that the "president will not, but Congress must." Host Sean Hannity replied, "So what you're saying is the president, because he wants his agenda, will force -- in light of these elections in New Jersey, Massachusetts -- force these Democrats to walk the plank and ruin their careers?"
Alex Castellanos: The election results "may center this administration." On CNN's The Situation Room, CNN Republican strategist Alex Castellanos said, "This may be actually a good day for Barack Obama, in the sense that, instead of waiting of November of this coming year to really lose his Democratic majority in the House, he in effect may lose it now. Democrats may start moving away from him, and he may have to govern in a more bipartisan way, reaching out to Republicans, moving away from the left, more towards the center and some conservative ideals. It may center this administration."
David Gergen: "This is not the time to go out and crusade for liberal causes." On CNN's Larry King Live, CNN senior political analyst David Gergen said that "there is going to be a tension within the Democratic Party. [Political analyst] Tanya [Acker] is arguing the progressive view and saying you have to fight for the liberal causes versus others who are moderates in the party saying, 'No. We've got to figure out a way to get more to the center, work with the opposition, get together on jobs and get some things done on that.' " He then added, "This is not the time to go out and crusade for liberal causes. And ... they're going to have to resolve that in the White House. I don't know which way the president is going to come down on that subject."
Exit polls of MA voters show majority support for Obama
Rasmussen: Fifty-three percent of MA voters approve of Obama job performance. In its election night polling, Rasmussen Reports found that 53 percent of Massachusetts voters "approve of the way that Barack Obama has handled his job as President." As Media Matters for America has documented, pollster Scott Rasmussen, president of Rasmussen Reports, reportedly worked for President George W. Bush's re-election campaign and for the Republican National Committee in 2003 and 2004.
Fabrizio, McLaughlin & Associates: Obama held a 59 percent favorability mark and 55 percent job approval rating among MA voters. A January 20 Politico article reported that a Fabrizio, McLaughlin & Associates exit poll found that "Obama's personal favorability remained high with voters." The poll found that "Obama boasted a 59 percent favorability mark" and "Obama's job approval rating even stayed at a respectable 55 percent as voters trekked to the ballot box to oppose the candidate he campaigned for just two days earlier. The president even earned a passing mark on his handling of the economy (50 percent approval) and received a clear majority's support for his work in the war in Afghanistan (59 percent approval)." Fabrizio, McLaughlin & Associates is a Republican polling firm.
Even Brown himself stated that the election was "not a referendum on the president"
Brown's "Last Pitch": "It's not a referendum on the president. There are many issues." In his January 18 "Last Pitch" interview with Boston's ABC affiliate, Brown said of the race: "It's not a referendum on the president. There are many issues; you're talking about national security, taxes, spending -- the health care plan certainly is important."