But there’s a case to be made that Obama has helped exacerbate the GOP’s internal divisions by highlighting wedge issues. Gay marriage, the expansion of Medicaid, immigration reform, even the “sequester” – all have splintered the Republicans and at times forced them into debate among themselves as much as with Democrats.
“Obama’s doing a good job of exploiting internal discord,” says Ford O’Connell, president of the conservative Civic Forum PAC.
The Republicans, of course, damaged themselves in the last election. The party is still digging out from Mitt Romney’s rich-guy gaffes, starting with his disparaging comments about the “47 percent.” Obama continues to crush the Republicans on the issue of who understands the concerns of the middle class. Then there were the off-key comments on rape that cost the Republicans two Senate seats and untold embarrassment nationally, especially among women voters.
But it was Obama’s unabashedly liberal speech at his second inaugural that fueled the notion that he is actively trying to splinter the opposition. He went after climate-change skeptics when he bashed those who “may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science.” He took an indirect slap at the GOP’s vice presidential nominee, Paul Ryan, when he dismissed the idea that the social safety net – Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security – makes us “a nation of takers.”