President Barack Obama told NPR he took “some responsibility” for Democrats losing the majority of races at the federal and state level during his time in the oval office.
“And I take some responsibility for that,” Obama told NPR’s Steve Inskeep in a wide-ranging interview published Monday.
Inskeep asked Obama if Democrats’ inabilities to hold onto legislative seats and governorships had to do with them failing to actually be “there and hearing” people across the electorate. Obama attributed this to his electoral successes in 2008 and 2012.
“Were Democrats failing to do that at every level because your party has lost the majority of races at almost every level at this point?” Inskeep asked.
Obama said his campaign was “putting out fires” when he came into office, and they weren’t able to help any congressional candidates.
“You know, when I came into office, um, you know, we were just putting out fires. We were in a huge crisis situation,” Obama said. “And so a lot of the organizing work that we did during the campaign, we started to see right away didn’t immediately translate to, wasn’t immediately transferable to, congressional candidates.”
“And more work would have needed to be done to just build up that structure and, you know, one of the big suggestions that I have for Democrats as I leave, and something that, you know, I have some ideas about is, how do we do more of that ground up building?” Obama said before going into what he plans on doing after leaving the White House.
Under Obama, Democrats have lost more than 900 seats in state legislatures, 69 seats in the House of Representatives, 13 Senate seats and 12 governorships.
Obama also said Republican-aligned groups were better mobilized to win elections at the state and local level than Democrats.
“Well, you know, I think that we haven’t done it as well as we need to. For example, we know that the Republicans, funded through organizations like the Koch brothers, have been very systematic at…” Obama said.
“Building from the ground up and communicating to state legislators and financing school board races and public utility commission races, and, you know, I am a proud Democrat, but I do think that we have a bias towards national issues and international issues, and as a consequence I think we’ve ceded too much territory,” he said.
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