On Tuesday, President Obama unveiled his rather minor executive actions on gun control with great fanfare, applause, and tears. We laughed; we cried; we questioned why exactly he was wasting political capital on a series of initiatives that largely mirror already-present federal law.
Here’s the answer: he’s trying to mobilize his hard-core base. Obama said during his press conference, “I’m not on the ballot again. I’m not looking to score some points.”
But his party is.
Leftist columnist Greg Sargent of The Washington Post explains that the gun control issue drives hard lefties to the polls. He quotes Ron Brownstein of National Journal stating just that: “Gun control thus joins that lengthy list of cultural divides that is largely helping Democrats among white collar urbanized voters (especially women) like those in Northern Virginia or the suburbs of Philadelphia and Denver, but further weakening them among blue collar and exurban and rural voters (especially men) in the same states and beyond.”
This, in other words, is a calculated pander to culturally blue women, whom they hope to turn out in droves for Hillary. Which is why Hillary Clinton has jumped on the Obama gun control bandwagon with both feet, even though the issue isn’t hot button or popular with most Americans.
The Democratic strategy isn’t going to be to win the middle. It’s going to be turnout among women and minorities, just like 2012. Brownstein has compiled a chart showing how the gun control issue plays among various constituencies:
Obviously, gun control is most popular among Hispanics, blacks, and college-educated women.
President Obama represents a political sea change in presidential politics – he’s the man who coined the strategy. It has devastated his own party at the state and local level, but he doesn’t care about that: after all, the president’s the only guy in government who matters, apparently. And he’ll keep pressing for a polarizing politics that drives out his key support groups, even as establishment Republicans demand that their own politicians abandon theirs.