Obama’s Collapsing Base


Hedge Funders

BACK in 2008, hedge-fund managers gave overwhelmingly to Democrats. Now the GOP has taken in 53 percent of the amount given in the 2010 cycle. One of Obama’s most generous supporters, Daniel Loeb, the founder of Third Point who bundled $200,000 for Obama in 2008, gave $468,000 to Republicans last cycle. Financier Steven A. Cohen told New York Sen. Charles Schumer that he’d given up on the party, according to The Wall Street Journal, during a Democratic effort to raise the capital-gains tax rate.


During his campaign for the presidency, Obama professed to “love” labor. But there are plenty of signs that the romance has flagged. Obama was seen as largely a no-show during the dustup between the unions and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. At a recent meeting of labor leaders, union members tore into Obama for budget cuts and a new trade agreement. Labor pooh-bah Richard Trumka said, “President Obama does not yet have the balance right between spending cuts and new revenue.” Meanwhile, a recent Gallup poll showed voters trust governors and business leaders more than they do unions.


When it comes to energy policy, it seems like Obama can do no right. When the president called for increased offshore drilling, climate-change activists were incensed. When he embraced nuclear power, environmentalists were up in arms. “The climate push was … a total flop,” The New Republic moaned. Lately environmentalists have found a new bone to pick with the administration, challenging Obama in court to allow groups like the Audubon Society to sue power plants to cut their emissions.

The Media

During the 2008 election, onetime media darling John McCain groused that he’d lost his base. “The media is in love with Obama,” his campaign declared. No longer! Frank Rich, once Obama’s biggest champion, accused him of “a year’s worth of false starts.” David Brooks, who dined with Obama after the election, is begging him to take Paul Ryan to lunch. The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart has savaged the president for his Libya policy. Not even MSNBC is a reliable champion. In addition to comparing Obama to Jimmy Carter, Chris Matthews once declared he would “barf” if the president mentioned his Nobel Prize again.

Blacks and Hispanics

This spring, the president’s approval ratings among these bulwark constituencies slipped to new lows. A recent Gallup poll found a drop-off of 8 percent among blacks over the last two years and 19 percent among Hispanics. A Pew survey showed that 14.7 million Hispanic voters sat out the midterm elections. Hispanic Rep. Luis Gutierrez recently tore into the president for dragging his feet on immigration reform. Obama showed he’s still courting the black vote by ditching budget negotiations last month to attend a gala celebrating Al Sharpton in New York.


Matt Damon, who went out on the trail for Obama in 2008, now says he feels “let down” by the president and accuses him of having “misinterpreted his mandate.” Last year, Barbra Streisand criticized Obama for his inaction on “don’t ask, don’t tell,” and Spike Lee took a shot at the president for his tepid reaction to the oil spill. Hollywood is unlikely to fall in love with any other candidates in 2012 (sorry, Donald Trump!), but that fundraising muscle will matter for the billion-dollar president. It feels like a long time since the halcyon days when Tom Hanks said Obama had “the integrity and the inspiration to unify us as did FDR and Harry Truman, and John F. Kennedy.”