The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

President Obama may not have destroyed the Democratic Party. But he hurt it real bad.

HuffPo's Sam Stein is getting some grief today for saying that President Obama “destroyed” the Democratic Party during his eight years in office.

Here's what Sam said Wednesday on “Morning Joe”:

You look at the destruction of the Democratic Party under Barack Obama’s leadership and you have to wonder, what was the political — what were the electoral benefits that he gave to the party? He leaves them in a much worse position. The states are decimated, they lost control of the House and Senate, the governorships are decimated.

“Destruction” is the word that set people off. It implies finality. Like Obama killed the Democratic Party. Which he didn't. Just like George W. Bush didn't kill the Republican Party during his time in office. Political parties are resilient. They bend, they crack, but they usually don't die.

That word aside, however, Stein's sentiment about the state of the Democratic Party as Obama prepares to exit the White House is 100 percent accurate. Barack Obama has been exceptionally good for the brand of “Barack Obama” but far less good for the broader Democratic Party. His appeal was never transferable to down-ballot races, while some of his major accomplishments — especially the Affordable Care Act — turned out to be major negatives for the party's candidates for House and Senate.

This chart, created by Philip Bump, details just how much Democrats have lost in the eight years of the Obama White House.


There's no conclusion to draw from that chart except that, from top to bottom, the Democratic Party is less healthy today than it was when Obama won the White House eight years ago. Or, to put it simpler: not destroyed but badly diminished.