Free Markets, Free People
A new CNN poll shows that one in four Democrats would prefer the party nominate someone other than Barack Obama for the presidency. That’s not good territory for an incumbent seeking election to be in. It also shows a negative trend to the question posed:
A new poll by CNN and ORC International finds that 27 percent of Democrats would like to see their party nominate a candidate other than Barack Obama for president in 2012.
In response to the question, "Do you think the Democratic party should renominate Barack Obama as the party’s candidate for president in 2012, or do you think the Democratic party should nominate a different candidate for president in 2012?" — 72 percent said they wanted to see Obama renominated. But 27 percent, slightly more than one in every four, said they wanted to see Democrats nominate a different candidate. One percent had no opinion.
That’s down from July where slightly less (22%) but still a significant number want another nominee.
Don’t forget now, this is a poll of nothing but Democrats. And this demonstrates a high level of discontent and disapproval with this president among his own base. It means, for whatever reason, the bloom is off the rose when it comes to Obama, and while it is probable that if Obama remains the nominee for a second term, a good number of them will reluctantly pull the lever for him, given the alternative. But, and in cases like this there is always a “but” that keeps campaigns awake at night, what this also demonstrates is a large and widening “enthusiasm gap”.
The new poll is another indication of Democratic unhappiness with the president, but it does not mean Obama will face a challenge in his party’s primaries. Despite the complaints of a few liberals like Sen. Bernard Sanders, the odds of a Democrat opposing the president appear to be something less than zero. But the new poll is still a matter of concern to Democrats, because it is yet another indication that there is significant disillusionment with the president within his own party. Whether those disaffected Democrats will come around to supporting Obama next year is an open question — and perhaps the most worrying of the president’s re-election bid.
So you have any number of disaffected Democrats who have little enthusiasm for a repeat of the previous four years. Obama no longer excites them (if he ever did – my guess is a significant number of these Dems were Hillary supporters) and they’re less likely than previously to take the time to go to the polls and vote.
When it was candidate Obama, the Get Out The Vote (GOTV) effort by the left was very effective because the Democratic electorate was wildly enthusiastic about the man. Of course GOTV efforts cost massive amounts of money – something candidate Obama gathered to himself quite well. As you might imagine, GOTV efforts with a less enthusiastic electorate cost even more. And still many are going to choose not to participate.
I think that the story quoted is likely correct. Both parties have seen what primary challengers do when introduced in a presidential re-election campaign. The result is rarely good for the incumbent. I think Democrats will do everything in their power to avoid that. However, keep in mind these polls. They reflect a very disturbing trend for the Obama campaign. He won on the wild enthusiasm he generated with a vague campaign about “hope and change”, an unpopular lame duck president and a poor choice for an opponent.
The “hope and change” express has derailed, he no longer has Bush to blame and he is stuck, for once, running on his own record – as dismal as it is.
Seeing polls indicating an unenthusiastic and eroding base has to keep him up at night. Trying to restrike the spark that Obama rode to victory has to keep his campaign up at night. Methinks both are going to suffer many sleepless nights before next November.
There are any number of indicators that point out that perhaps the left is both dispirited and disappointed with Obama. That may translate into low turnout in 2012. And while many will argue his campaign money machine will overcome that, we’ve seen examples where money was lavished on campaigns but the results of elections were less than expected.
Take the recent Wisconsin recall election for example. Unions and outside liberal interests pumped in more than $35 million dollars to opposed 6 Republican Senators. The goal, despite the spine the left is now trying to establish, was to oust enough to take back the majority in the Senate and block Governor Walker’s agenda. The result was the recall of 2 and allowing the GOP to keep their Senate majority. The $35 million spent on these 6 elections was almost double the $19 million spent on all 115 recent Wisconsin legislative elections and just a couple million short of the governor’s election total.
What that indicates is an inability, in a reliably liberal state and despite the money spent, to motivate enough voters to go to the polls and turn out the Republican. We’re repeatedly told that polls indicate Republicans are exceedingly unpopular, but the only poll that counts – this time in Wisconsin – doesn’t bear that out.
If the union machine can’t reliably turn out voters in a mostly liberal state for an election like this, what does that portend for Obama?
Gov. Scott Walker faces a recall election soon and polls are claiming it will be close. Maybe. But here’s a little clinker for the left. It appears his “agenda” is working and doing what it is supposed to do.
Indicator two: Talk of a primary opponent for Obama. I’m not sure it will happen, but it does indicate deep dissatisfaction with the incumbent. The Daily Beast reports this anecdote:
At a New York political event last week, Republican and Democratic office-holders were all bemoaning President Obama’s handling of the debt-ceiling crisis when someone said, “Hillary would have been a better president.”
“Every single person nodded, including the Republicans,” reported one observer.
The entire point of the article was to highlight the 18 million Hillary supporters saying “I told you so”. They weren’t particularly enthusiastic about voting for Obama last election. How enthusiastic will they be in 2012?
Indicator three: Town Hall meetings. In 2010 they were the venue in which the Tea Party’s anger was vented. And we saw a wave election follow. This year, indications are that the Town Halls may be dominated by dispirited and complaining liberals, if what Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN) experienced becomes common.
On Tuesday night, McCollum’s fellow Democrats packed a music recital hall at St. Catherine University to give the six-term congresswoman an earful about their disappointment with Obama and his economic and military policies.
The crowd of about 150 was largely friendly and civil, but they were passionate about their opposition to the conservative policies flowing from the Republican-controlled Congress and what they consider an all-too-conciliatory White House.
John from St. Paul wanted to know why Obama has moved to the right. "Whose side is he on?" he asked. "What are progressives telling him?"
Just what Democratic members of Congress want to have to do, defend an increasingly unpopular president’s record. Just ask the GOP how well that works. What one can expect to see is an attempt by many Democrats to distance themselves from Obama if they feel he is a liability come election time. Oh, and a little clue as to the major issue in this next election (as if anyone paying attention really needs a clue) came out during the question and answer session:
While liberals dominated the question-and-answer session, a woman who identified herself as a fiscal conservative received a warm ovation when she told the congresswoman, "You’ve got to look for ways to live within your means."
She bottom-lined it for them. Now liberals in Congress have got to find a way to do what the woman said while trying to save their favorite welfare programs.
These indicators, all preliminary at this point, give a picture of an incumbent president in trouble. His base is dissatisfied and dispirited. Even in an election which the left raised to national prominence and spent lavishly on, they were unsuccessful in accomplishing their goal. The 18 million Hillary supporters who loyally pulled the lever for him last time aren’t at all happy with him and may not show up to vote for him this time around. And liberals in general are expressing their dissatisfaction with his performance.
Worst of all, Barack Obama has to actually run on a record for the first time in his life. And that record is certainly nothing to brag about. 2012 should be a very interesting election season.
The consensus among election experts is the 2010 midterm elections are most likely to see Democrats lose seats in both the House and Senate. The question, of course, is how many? And, will they lose enough seats for the Republicans to take control of the House and/or Senate?
Dealing with the Senate first, the answer is “no”. The most likely number of seats picked up by the GOP is 7. That would give them 48 and a very strong minority. That may end up being better, in this case, than a majority. Certainly 48 will give them the power to stop just about anything in the Senate, and, if they so desire, pass legislation only with their amendments attached.
In the House, Republicans need 39 seats to take control. They’ll most likely pick up between 32 and 39. Even if they don’t hit that magic 39, they’ll have a much stronger minority that will have to be reckoned with by Pelosi and company to get anything done there.
You know it’s going to be bad for Democrats, because Joe Biden is sure it won’t be.
What that all means is even if the GOP doesn’t have control of Congress after the midterms (and many argue – to include myself – that perhaps they’re better off not having control), they will have a considerably stronger hand then now in the national legislature.
Which brings us to the emerging campaign strategies of each party. On the GOP side, it appears that Republicans want to “nationalize” the elections. I.e. they want to make the midterms a referendum on the Obama administration. You’ll be seeing they tying everything back to the first 2 years of the Obama presidency, the economy, the oil spill and the out-of-control spending. I don’t think it will be hard to sell.
Given the precedent set under the Bush administration when Democrats successfully made all elections referendums on the presidency, it has become accepted by voters that party equals president and they act in concert. Hence the way you punish the president and his party is to turn out members of Congress that represent that party – or variations on that theme.
Given that, the Democrats will obviously attempt to counter the GOPs strategy by keeping things “local” if possible. How well that will work, given the tumultuous two years of the Obama presidency and the fact it is Congress under Democratic leadership which has passed deeply unpopular legislation, is anyone’s guess. Mine is it won’t work very well. Votes for health care and stimulus, for instance, will be key “national” topics with which GOP candidates will hit incumbent Democrats.
Which then leaves Democrats trying to fashion a Get Out The Vote (GOTV) strategy which they hope will re-create their 2008 electoral victory.
To avoid such losses, the Democratic National Committee has committed to spending tens of millions of dollars to re-create (or come somewhere near re-creating) the 2008 election model, in which Democrats relied heavily on higher-than-normal turnout from young people and strong support from African American and Hispanic voters.
They’re talking turnout here, not percentages – for instance, African-Americans have always voted in the 90% area for Democrats. The percentage they need in this election is 90% of African-Americans showing up at the polls. Same with Hispanic and young voters.
And that is the job the DNC plans on giving Obama in the lead up to the November vote.
The likelihood of that happening, however, is not especially good. We’ve been chronicling the “enthusiasm gap” for months. The far left is let down. Independent voters are disenchanted and the right is very enthusiastic about “change” again.
Funding is also drying up for Democrats. The latest big donors to drop Democrats are from Wall Street – a traditional well-spring of funding for the party.
The bottom line here is the stars seem to be lining up for the GOP in the midterms, barring any unforeseen event which might mitigate their advantage. The question will be have you had enough of hope and change as a billboard in NE Minnesota presently asks. Conventional wisdom says the answer will be a pretty resounding “yes”. The only question is how much they want to change the status quo.