Monday, March 10, 2014

The Democrats' problem with their base

By Richard K. Barry

It should come as no surprise that President Obama is a bit worried that Democrats not neglect the 2014 midterms because the 2016 presidential election is a shinier bauble.

With the House increasingly out of reach, losing the Senate would pretty much be game over for what is left of the Obama agenda.

Speaking to some higher-end donors in Boston on Wednesday night, the president said that he "hoped because I'm not on the ballot that people aren't going to take it easy this time, because the ideas I care about and am fighting for are on the ballot."

Interesting too is the thought that making use of Obama and his team in the midterms is a tricky business. 

Our message to candidates is: How can we help?" White House political director David Simas said in an interview. If showing up for a rally isn't the answer in moderate districts, Simas said the president can give candidates a boost by raising money and setting a national debate on economic opportunity.

And the same point from the other side can be gleaned from this comment by Republican strategic Brad Dayspring:
"Obviously their plan is to hide Obama in deep blue states and use him to raise money in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles," Dayspring said. "The problem is that Democratic senators and candidates in the top 14 battleground states — from Mary Landrieu in Louisiana to Mark Warner in Virginia — have voted with President Obama an average of 94 percent of the time, a remarkable disconnect considering his approval rating in those states averages just 36 percent."

No great surprise, but midterms tend to be about turning out the base and the Republicans are typically more energized when Obama is not on the ballot to excite Democrats. This is why the Obama team will want to talk up those things that appeal to single women, young people and minorities, things like the presidents economic agenda and minimum wage.

Sadly, hatred is a more compelling turn-out driver than a vague hope that your guy's team has a plan.

So, no, I'm not feeling good about the midterms.

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