President Barack Obama’s November 4 trip to Wisconsin might have only been partially about education policy. It might have been to coax incumbent Wisconsin Governor James Doyle to pull a Brett Farve and declare himself a candidate for re-election in 2010. Failing that, he still hopes to convince Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett or Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk to declare for Governor. Maybe Congressman Ron Kind will still pull a Brett Farve after making the Shermanesque statement that he is staying in Congress.
Obama’s home state of Illinois is in the weird position of being the only Midwest Great Lake state run by Democrats surrounded by Republican governors. Scott Walker has the Republican nomination already almost locked up and will be Governor barring a Democratic miracle. Minnesota has Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty. The only drama in Michigan will be Republican nominees in crowded primaries for Governor, Attorney General and Secretary of State. Either Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard or Congressman Pete Hoekstra trounces Democrat Lieutenant Governor John Cherry in early polls. Indiana has Republican Governor Mitch Daniels.
This would not have looked so dire had Democrats prevailed over Bob McDonnell as Governor of Virginia and Chris Christie in New Jersey on November 3. 2009 might be a precursor of 2010, when most Governors, a third of the U.S Senate and all members of the U.S. House face voters.
Jimmy Carter coined the term “Misery Index” for inflation and unemployment in his campaign against President Gerald Ford and then it came back to bite him as Ronald Reagan defeated him for President in 1980. The U.S. Senate Majority also swung to Republicans. The Misery Index does not favor Democrats now and there is no likelihood things will improve by the 2010 election. When what should be low is high, those in office have a way of being voted out of office.
It is a center-right country, especially in the Midwest. In 2008, college kids and minority voters put Obama over the top. Some of them are unemployed or underemployed now and increasingly they see Republicans as the change we can believe in. Add that to the middle-class victims of the Misery Index and the Obama voting majority is now fickle and receptive to a new message of hope and change.