It’s a given that President Barack Obama is not popular in Oklahoma, but is it possible his approval ratings could go up here as the economy improves and elements of the national health care plan take effect?
If the answer is yes, then this could be the real wild card in the 2010 elections. Right now, many Republicans here seem confident they will handily sweep the elections.
Some political pundits will argue that it’s impossible for Obama to gain significant popularity here no matter what for a variety of reasons. Oklahoma was the only state in the nation in which every county went for U.S. Sen. John McCain in the 2008 president election, and this was before the Tea Party movement really got going and the health care reform battle. A recent Gallup poll showed Obama’s approval rating here at 48 percent.
But when people start to realize they can become insured even with a preexisting condition and if the job picture improves drastically in coming months, the political climate could change here and become more favorable for Democrats and even Obama.
In a recent email to supporters, Obama outlined some of the health reform benefits that go into effect this year:
Small businesses will receive significant tax cuts, this year, to help them afford health coverage for all their employees.
Seniors will receive a rebate to reduce drug costs not yet covered under Medicare.
Young people will be allowed coverage under their parents’ plan until the age of 26.
Early retirees will receive help to reduce premium costs.
Children will be protected against discrimination on the basis of medical history.
Uninsured Americans with pre-existing conditions can join a special high-risk pool to get the coverage they need, starting in just 90 days.
Insured Americans will be protected from seeing their insurance revoked when they get sick, or facing restrictive annual limits on the care they receive.
All Americans will benefit from significant new investments to train primary care doctors, nurses, and public health professionals, and the creation of state-level consumer assistance programs to help all patients understand and defend our new rights.
There are also signs the job market is improving. Oklahoma already has a lower unemployment rate, 6.7 percent, than the national average of 9.7 percent. If this trend continues, then any further improvement in the job market here will likely help Democrats in the polls.
It might be wishful thinking that Obama could improve his popularity here and thus actually help some state Democrats in the 2010 election, but his eventual success with the health care reform bill shows he has a long-view strategy when it comes to political battles. Pundits and Republicans argued the bill would never pass, but it did.
Will Obama’s decisions about the economy eventually reveal the same, long-term tenacity going into the 2010 elections? Will it eventually become apparent the economy has improved, and Obama and the Democrats brought this country back from the brink of financial disaster after the botched performance of former President George W. Bush?