by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
No matter what the exact outcome of Tuesday’s elections, there is little doubt that President Obama will come out of it wounded.
Whether or not Republicans take over the Senate, they will certainly gain seats. Even if Democrats manage to eke out a victory that maintains narrow control of the chamber, it will only be because their candidates in close races did everything they could to distance themselves from Obama.
Either way, Obama will be a lame duck president. Voters will have rebuked him and his policies. He won’t have the ability to pass major legislation, and the focus of the political world will quickly turn to candidates vying to replace him.
But being a lame duck president isn’t the same as being without power. On issues including healthcare, environmental policy, immigration, and national security, Obama has already displayed a willingness to bypass Congress to pursue his goals.
If there were anything holding him back up to this point, it was either that he was facing re-election or he was somewhat hesitant to weaken Democratic chances in an election year that would determine the composition of Congress during his last two years in office.
But his name won’t be on the ballot in 2016 and he won’t have to deal with the Congress that gets elected that year, either. This means he has every reason to take more aggressive executive actions.