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Obama admits he weakened Democrats downticket, calls Electoral College 'vestige' of founding
US President Barack Obama holds a year-end press conference in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, DC, December 16, 2016. Obama on Friday warned his successor Donald Trump against antagonizing China by reaching out to Taiwan, saying he could risk a "very significant" response if he upends decades of diplomatic tradition. / AFP / ZACH GIBSON (Photo credit should read ZACH GIBSON/AFP/Getty Images)

Obama admits he weakened Democrats downticket, calls Electoral College 'vestige' of founding

During his final press conference of the year, President Barack Obama admitted that he played a role in weakening the Democratic party, and called the Electoral College a "vestige" and "carryover" from the founding.

Downticket Democrat success has suffered for most of the eight years Obama has been in office, despite what prognosticators were predicting as late as 2014. As Bloomberg View columnist Megan McArdle pointed out in November the week prior to the election, the passage of Obamacare was hubris and sparked a backlash that made downticket races fall to the right:

Whatever your opinion on the merits of Barack Obama as a president, his tenure has been rough for his party. As Republican strategist Rory Cooper tweeted last night, “Under President Obama, Democrats have lost 900+ state legislature seats, 12 governors, 69 House seats, 13 Senate seats.” And while this may be coincidence, unrelated to anything Obama has done, I suspect that these two things may be connected -- that parties are most vulnerable at precisely the moment when they feel themselves strongest.

In Friday's press conference, Obama seemed to be coming to terms with that reality, but put the responsibility on the shoulders of Democrats who did not spend enough time out in their communities canvassing and organizing:

"It is not something I've been able to transfer to candidates in midterms and sort of build a sustaining organization around. That's something that I would have liked to have done more of, but it's kind of hard to do when you're dealing a whole bunch of issues here in the White House."

According to the Washington Examiner, Obama came into office in 2008 bringing an initial optimism that translated into downticket success, which quickly faded. From the Examiner:

Obama was the first Democrat to win more than 50 percent of the vote in consecutive presidential elections since President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. But other than the coattails that lifted down-ballot Democrats in his first campaign, in 2008, the president's party generally suffered under his leadership, and sits at a historic low point as he readies to exit the White House.

The Examiner also noted that Democrats are slowly coming to terms with the fact that their beloved president has perhaps not been the most inspirational leader in terms of down ballot success.

In the same press conference, Obama also derided the Electoral College as a relic of the past, even as they prepare to vote Monday to confirm President-elect Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States.

Parroting a popular argument stemming from the left since Hillary Clinton lost to Trump but won the popular vote, Obama called the electoral college a "vestige" of a government that was originally envisioned but was simply an "earlier version" of the federal government. From a separate Examiner report:

"There are some structures in our political system as envisioned by the founders that sometimes are going to disadvantage Democrats," [Obama said].

The Democrats have named the Electoral College as just one of several obstacles that prevented Clinton from winning the presidency. The others include "fake news," "white supremacy," the FBI investigation into her private server and the Russian cyberattacks on Democratic institutions, according to the Examiner.

They maintain that these obstacles and Trump's failure to win the popular vote translate into his administration not receiving a "mandate" from the American voters.

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