My take on why we saw the thrilla in … Massachusetts:
From Inside Washington, Nina Totenberg encapsulated it best. The economy and job prospects dwarf all other issues.
If we had 5 percent unemployment, he probably would have gotten the plan through. But you can’t refocus people’s attention on an aspirational goal for a society — I think it’s very difficult to do that — when people are hurting so much in the immediate sense and businesses are going down the tubes, small business on a daily basis. You just look in any mall, places you’ve gone for years, they’re gone now. People in every level of life are struggling to even have a job or they’re working part time. Kids coming out of school can’t find jobs. This is a very dire situation and he has – I can’t say he’s ignored it, but he hasn’t focused on it in a way he probably should have.
From the Chris Matthews Show, David Brooks always seems to have to most cogent social insights:
Mr. BROOKS: Yeah, if I had to generalize, it used to be in this country people of high school degrees lived the same kind of lives as people with college degrees. That’s no longer true. Divorce rates, attitudes towards society, attitudes towards government, it’s very different. College degree, non college degree. … And they look at the people who are running them, most of them are college degrees, Harvard law, on both sides. … And they say, `That’s not me. That’s not my life.’ … `And they’re not listening to me.’
And so the President shifts focus in his annual State of the Union address. It’s about jobs and the economy. Then education … our future.