Rockler: 2016 election polls, talk come way too soon after 2012 presidential race

Last week, President Barack Obama was re-elected and people were already talking about the 2016 election. Rather than looking at hypotheticals for future, as-of-yet meaningless elections, we need to begin looking at the issues at play now.

Polling already started in New Hampshire and Florida, looking to see who might possibly win. Public Policy Polling is already gathering voters’ attitudes toward Hillary Clinton and Andrew Cuomo for the Democrats. Chris Christie and Marco Rubio are among some of the names being polled for the Republicans.

It’s simply too soon. The desire to look ahead to four years from now is unproductive and develops a continual campaign and election coverage, where the public only cares about the next election. At some point, the candidates we elect must actually have the opportunity to govern. Continual campaigns will not make our country better.

Republicans who are unhappy with the election outcome are already looking forward four years. But both Democrats and Republicans have an over-inflated sense of what the president can do. Those who are upset about Obama’s victory and believe the country is drastically worse off because of it likely have this sense.

This belief is evident in the continual rhetoric about gasoline prices. Those who competed in the Republican primaries tried to blame the president for $4 gas prices. It oversimplifies a complex system where the president is not always directly responsible. Rather than see the more nuanced picture, those who dislike the president will be inclined to buy into similar oversimplifications. Pointing at the president for the country’s success or failure is not always easily and clearly done.

It’s a similar story for the economy. Romney blamed the president during the election for not doing more to fix the economy. The reality was that the Congress could have done more, too. The public can more easily fixate on holding one individual accountable than a group of 435 congressmen.

Conservatives need to understand that the president’s re-election is not the end of the country or American values. Conservative FOX News host Bill O’Reilly blamed the public for Obama’s re-election, suggesting a changing culture is to blame. “It’s not a traditional America anymore, and there are 50 percent of the voting public who want stuff. They want things. And who is going to give them things? President Obama.” Yet had Republicans worked harder with Democrats in the Senate, fewer Americans would be relying on the government for assistance.

Without a doubt, the GOP will need to change before 2016. It can no longer depend on a white majority to win elections. Staking out hardline positions on abortion or immigration will not appeal to the changing, more diverse population. Attracting younger voters who are socially liberal might be a place to start.

The country’s fundamental values did not change when George Bush won a second term. Liberals reacted much the same way when he won re-election. Democrats across the country said they’d be leaving the country. Now, those who dislike Obama can start to understand the feeling. Just like Bush was, Obama he will be your president for the next four years — like it or not.

Harmen Rockler is a senior newspaper journalism and political science major. His column appears weekly. He can be reached at or followed on Twitter at @LeftofBoston.



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