Even local races will be a referendum on Obama

Former U.S. House Speaker Tip O’Neill once famously stated that all politics are local.

Don’t you believe it. Not this year.

Tuesday’s election results may or may not turn out as lopsidedly Republican as many are predicting now, but considering where we were just two short years ago, it’s clear the pendulum has swung too far in the opposite direction to be explained by anything at the state, city or county level.

For better or worse, this election is going to be a referendum on what President Obama and his party did with the almost unprecedented power they were handed in 2008.

And the early returns aren’t encouraging for them.

Back then, just having a “D” behind one’s name was good for about 49 percent of the vote. This time around, the very same politicians who once positioned themselves as unabashed liberals are pulling hamstrings trying to back away from the president’s increasingly unpopular agenda.

Here in heavily Democratic Washington state, for example, which boasts one of the most critical Senate races in the nation, when’s the last time you saw Patty Murray run an ad congratulating herself for voting in lockstep with Obama?

It’s true the president (and the first lady) have made numerous campaign appearances in Washington on Murray’s behalf, but there’s a big difference between attending Democratic gatherings to throw red meat to her liberal base and showing up in commercials that will also be seen by disaffected independents and suddenly re-energized Republicans.

Even at the local level, races that shouldn’t be close and wouldn’t have been two years ago project as nailbiters thanks to the Democrats assuming a mandate where none existed.

Again, it remains to be seen whether a red wave sweeps through Kitsap County next week.

But the mere fact that it could is significant on its own, and the reasons why should be painfully obvious to everyone.

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