The trouncing Obama took in Congress Tuesday means he can’t get anything significant done legislatively over the next two years. But Republican gains in the state capitals threaten his reelection.
Republicans picked up the governships of New Mexico, Iowa, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Pennsylvania and Michigan – all potential 2012 swing states – as well as Ohio, perhaps the most critical battleground state of all.
Obama labored mightily to preserve Democratic Ohio Governor Ted Strickland’s job, traveling to the state repeatedly on his behalf and raising mountains of cash for him. But Stickland went down, defeated by former Rep. John Kasich.
The GOP also retained the governorship of Florida – just barely and despite a vigorous Obama effort to put it in Democratic hands. If Obama loses both Ohio and Florida, his chances of being reelected are very, very low.
Obama’s problem here is that governors wield enormous power to help a president in their home state, directly controlling the levers of power within the state party to generate publicity and enthusiasm and to get people to the polls.
The failure to secure these governorships is an abject failure on the part of Obama’s political team. But it was hard to avoid, given the GOP resurgence they were facing.