You have to sit up and take notice when a Louisiana political operative with national connections tells you President Barack Obama will probably be re-elected in November. Timmy Teepell, the hard-nosed former chief of staff for Gov. Bobby Jindal, backs up his analysis with a heavy dose of sound reasoning.
“It’s going to be a much tougher battle than most people think for Republicans to beat Obama,” Teepell told the Baton Rouge Press Club. “It’s a steep, uphill climb.”
Teepell is now a partner in On-Message Inc., an Alexandria, Va., political consulting company. He has worked for the Republican Governors’ Association and on political campaigns around the country. He continues to serve as a political adviser to Gov. Jindal.
The president should win his base states along the Pacific Coast, the Northeast and much of the Midwest, Teepell said. He added that would get Obama 246 of the 270 electoral votes that he needs to win re-election and he could get the rest by winning Florida or Ohio. If he loses those two states, Teepell said he could get his votes in New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada and Iowa.
Voters often forget popular votes aren’t the final determining factor in presidential elections. In 48 states and in the District of Columbia, the presidential candidate who gets more than 50 percent of a state’s popular votes gets all of its electoral votes. Maine and Nebraska elect two of their electors statewide and the rest by congressional district, which means those who voted for losing candidates still have a voice in the outcome.
Louisiana has eight electoral votes, two for its U.S. senators and six for its U.S. House members. The state lost a House member this year because of slow population growth.
The state of the national economy, which has always been a major factor in determining who becomes president, could cause Obama some problems, according to Teepell. However, a recent uptick in the economic picture tends to favor the president.
Another plus for Obama is the nasty campaign for the Republican presidential nomination. The major contenders have served only to hand the president ideal issues on a silver platter. You can be sure Obama’s well-heeled and well-oiled campaign organization has been taking notes throughout the process.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like this,” Teepell said. “It’s quite a mess.”
Mitt Romney won an impressive victory Tuesday in the Florida presidential primary, and political analysts said he has the money and momentum on his side. However, the conservative wing of the party doesn’t like him. They continue to pin their hopes on former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who has a number of built-in negatives. And Gingrich stubbornly refuses to step aside.
Obama also has problems, but the longer the Republican nomination process continues the less likely his negatives will hurt his re-election chances.
The president’s State of the Union address, for example, was designed to “divide and conquer.” It would have done Louisiana Gov. Huey P. Long’s “Share the Wealth” program proud. Long’s motto was, “Every Man a King.”
Long said 2 percent of the people owned 60 percent of the wealth. Does that sound similar to what we’ve been hearing lately? And, like Obama, Long’s solution was to tax all incomes over $1 million. Here is Obama’s message:
“We can either settle for a country where a shrinking number of people do really well, while a growing number of Americans barely get by,” the president said. “Or we can restore an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share and everyone plays by the same set of rules.”
Obama’s decision to cancel NASA’s Constellation space program and the impending plans to reduce the size of the military are other troubling developments. Members of Congress haven’t been innocent bystanders in these decisions. The unwillingness of both sides to work together has also passed along tremendous federal debt to our children and grandchildren.
However, the president has had some major successes. They include the killing of Osama bin Laden and other terrorist leaders and fulfilling his promise to bring American troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan. He also scores points when he says “Washington is broken” and he wants to restore the basic goals of owning a home, earning enough to raise a family and putting a little money away for retirement.
Independent voters always decide elections, and Teepell said they aren’t happy campers. His company polled voters in 50 “battleground congressional districts.” Teepell said 71 percent of independents believe the nation is on the wrong track. However, he said he thinks that will give Republicans an advantage in House and Senate elections more than it will help the eventual GOP presidential nominee.
Most of us already knew the down-and-dirty pursuit of the Republican nomination has played right into Obama’s hands. When it’s finally over and the state of the national economy in November will have a lot to say about the final outcome in the presidential race. For now, as Teepell said, the president has the upper hand.
Jim Beam, the retired editor of the Lake Charles American Press, has covered people and politics for more than ÿve decades. Contact him at 494-4025 or [email protected].