After the Midterms...

Welcome to Politics Bites, where every day at It's A Free Country, we bring you the unmissable quotes from political conversations on WNYC. On today's Brian Lehrer Show, John Heilemann, national political columnist for New York Magazine looked towards the second half of Obama's presidency and the 2012 presidential race.

In an elaborate thought experiment, Heilemann explained how a Michael Bloomberg run as a third party candidate for president in 2012 could lead to the election of Sarah Palin to the White House. He lays out all the "if this, then thats" in this week's New York Magazine.

The political landscape has changed dramatically in two years, said Heilemann, who is co-author of Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime

Obama's brand has changed so much and he has lost so much altitude with so many of the key constiuencies that he was so strong with in 2008...Independent voters have turned pretty dramatically against the president in a lot of key states. There is not a lot of enthusiasm in the Democratic base. We're going to see, i think every reasonable projection shows that there's going to be a huge drop off in African American turnout, in Latino turnout, in new voter turnout, in young voters turnout. The circumstances have changed so much...It's hard to see him moving the needle very much almost at all. 

On the subject of the Comedy Central rally in Washington on Saturday, Heilemann predicted it will be a lot of fun, but not politically significant. 

I imagine that there are a ton of people who are going to get on those buses and come to Washington D.C. who are really attracted by the idea of the pop culture spectacle of seeing these heroes of theirs, Stewart and Colbert on stage and who think that the political process is ridiculous and has become increasingly ridiculous. And who are going there in some way to register a protest against the insanity and the polarization of the political process. But that is not going to impell them them three days later to actually put on their shoes on a maybe unpleasant day, or maybe a pleasant day, and actually go to the polling places. 

After the election, presumably with a Republican controlled Congress, Heilemann said Obama is going to try even more to accomodate conservatives and seek common ground. He expects Obama to seek compromises on the deficit and budget, on education and on trade issues, but to stay away from big progessive agenda items. 

Listen to the entire conversation on The Brian Lehrer Show