As bad news piles up for the Democrats, I asked a top Democratic strategist if it were possible that President Obama might “pull a Lyndon Johnson” and soberly face the cameras, telling America that he has decided that the demands of partisan politics are interfering with his efforts to right our economy and that he has decided to withdraw to devote full time to our recovery. His answer: “Yes. It’s possible. If things continue as they are and have not turned around by January, it is certainly possible.”
Just looking at Michelle Obama’s unsmiling face during her husband’s recent speech to Congress triggered an insight: These folks aren’t having fun anymore.
Obama, whose insistence on passing a healthcare law that the courts will probably throw out cost his party the House, will now cost his party the Senate too. Indeed, it is even possible that the Republicans win 60 seats.
Currently, there are strong Republican candidates in 12 seats now held by Democrats. All could win in a 10- to 15-point landslide (which is shaping up). They include: Virginia (George Allen), Florida (Adam Hasner), New Mexico (probably Rep. Steve Pearce), Montana (Rep. Denny Rehberg), North Dakota (Rep. Rick Berg), Nebraska (Jon Bruning), Missouri (Sarah Steelman would be the best), Michigan (Pete Hoekstra), Ohio (Josh Mandel would be best), Wisconsin (Tommy Thompson or one of the others), Pennsylvania (Tim Burns would be great) and Connecticut (Chris Shays — better than Linda McMahon).
If all win, the GOP is only one vote shy of the filibuster-proof 60-member majority in the Senate. The final seats could come if strong challenges shape up in West Virginia, New Jersey, Washington state, Minnesota and Maryland. And, with Obama this far behind, they probably will.
These senators — all with targets painted on them — are not going to be happy to see Obama at the top of the ticket dragging the party — and them — down to massive defeat.
Obama’s historic race to the top in 2008 was animated by huge margins and turnouts among four key groups: African-Americans, Hispanics, Jews and young voters. New polling data and the results of the Brooklyn-Queens Turner-Weprin elections suggest that his base is decaying, chunk by chunk.
· An analysis of the past three Fox News surveys indicates that Obama’s job approval rating among voters younger than 30 has declined to 44 percent. By combining the past three surveys, Fox News was able to accumulate data on 600 under-30 voters indicating a sharp decrease in the president’s approval from his former supporters.
· According to Gallup, Obama’s approval among Hispanics has also dropped to 44 percent. Aggregating data from recent polls, as Fox News did, Gallup concluded that the president’s ratings among Hispanics were not much higher than among the general electorate.
· The election of Republican Bob Turner in the single most Jewish district in America — one that had not gone Republican since the 1920s — shows the decay in Obama’s Jewish support. Alienated by his perceived anti-Israeli bias, Orthodox, Conservative and Reform Jews voted in massive numbers for Turner. Results in heavily Jewish areas reflected his desertion. But even such neighborhoods as Forest Hills, Queens, populated by Reform and Conservative Jews, showed the candidates running almost even.
Only the African-Americans remain of Obama’s 2008 coalition. Surveys show his approval among blacks at higher than 80 percent, indicating no diminution of his enthusiasm there.
Yet the entire campaign strategy of the Obama people is to move to the left, fanning class warfare, to elicit strong liberal support. Rather than compensating for his loss of liberals by reaching out to independents and traditional swing voters, he just doubles down on his appeal to the left, further alienating the middle.
But the kind of enthusiasm Obama kindled in 2008 cannot be ignited easily by negative appeals. Particularly if the Republicans nominate a more moderate candidate such as Mitt Romney, Obama will not be able to rely on partisan animosity to succeed where job approval has failed. And, given all that, he might not even run.