With the economy in the tank and his public approval ratings at an all-time low, it’s not just House Republicans who are dumping on President Obama these days.
His liberal base is finally letting its frustration with the president show, and the media have pounced on that narrative with gusto.
Reporters are looking for evidence that the coalition of voting blocs that carried Obama to his historic White House sweep in 2008 might be splintering. They haven’t had to look very far.
The White House believes the media are overplaying the doomsday stories about Obama’s low poll numbers with 14 months to go before the election. But a review of some recent news stories shows the president appears to have a lot of work to do to restore the faith of his liberal supporters. (Click on the links to read the full stories.)
• African Americans, Washington Post, Aug. 25:
“...a soaring jobless rate among African Americans and a newfound comfort by black lawmakers to criticize Obama’s economic policies are prompting the White House to recalibrate — and to focus more directly on the struggles of black America.
“The shift comes amid a growing concern among some Democrats that the stubborn economic conditions in minority communities might hamper efforts by Obama’s reelection campaign to generate the large black voter turnout it needs in key cities to make up for his declining support among white independents.”
• Hispanics, Washington Post, Aug. 21:
“The event was part of broader efforts by the White House and Obama’s reelection campaign to rekindle excitement among Hispanic voters, many of whom have turned their backs on the president amid disappointment over his immigration policies. Key to the strategy is shifting voters’ attention beyond the caustic immigration debate with data-driven appeals that show progress in other areas, while arguing that Obama is better on immigration than any of his potential Republican foes.”
• Whites, women, youth, liberals, Associated Press, Aug 29:
“Whites and women are a reelection problem for President Barack Obama. Younger voters and liberals, too, but to a lesser extent. All are important Democratic constituencies that helped him win the White House in 2008 and whose support he’ll need to keep it next year.
“An analysis of Associated Press-GfK polls, including the latest survey released last week, shows that Obama has lost ground among all those groups since he took office. The review points to his vulnerabilities and probable leading targets of his campaign as he seeks to assemble a coalition diverse enough to help him win reelection in tough economic times.”
• Jews, Politico, June 29:
“One said he had the sense that Obama ‘took the opportunity to throw Israel under the bus.’ Another, who swore he wasn’t getting his information from the mutually despised Fox News, admitted he’d lost faith in the president.
“If several dozen interviews with POLITICO are any indication, a similar conversation is taking place in Jewish communities across the country. Obama’s speech last month seems to have crystallized the doubts many pro-Israel Democrats had about Obama in 2008 in a way that could, on the margins, cost the president votes and money in 2012 and will not be easy to repair.”
• Organized labor, Talking Points Memo, Aug. 25:
“The most powerful union official in the country offered reporters his harshest critique of President Obama to date Thursday, questioning Obama’s policy and strategic decisions, and claiming he aligned himself with the tea party in the debt limit fight. . . . [AFL-CIO President Richard] Trumka dismissed Obama’s recent job creation proposals — an extended payroll tax cut, patent reform, free trade deals — as ‘nibbly things that aren’t going to make a difference,’ and said the AFL-CIO might sit out the Democratic convention if he and the party don’t get serious.”
• Environmentalists, New York Times, Sept. 4:
“Political analysts watching the Obama administration’s pullback from the environmental agenda this past month say that in the current climate there is little chance that environmentalists or their allies will ever side with the Republicans. . . . Still, they say, the president could face political repercussions in subtler but nevertheless corrosive ways: from losing volunteer enthusiasm to tying up his allies in fights with him instead of with his enemies.”
• Congressional Democrats, Washington Post, July 21:
“For the first time in weeks of debt negotiations that have focused on rifts within the Republican Party, Thursday brought forward long-simmering tensions between Obama and his Democratic allies on Capitol Hill.
“With more concerns than details, Democrats lashed out, saying that deep cuts to federal agency budgets and entitlements were too steep a price to pay. They questioned whether Obama shared their core values, and they sought reassurance — at a hastily arranged evening meeting at the White House that lasted nearly two hours — that the final legislative package would be the balanced approach that the president had promised.”
• Muslim Americans, Washington Post, Sept. 6:
“Obama’s tepid efforts to beat back the public’s negative impressions of the nation’s Muslim citizens in a post-9/11 nation have disappointed Muslim American leaders, who expected more from a president whose rhetoric promised so much. He has not held a single event with Muslim Americans outside the White House, favoring the relative privacy of his annual iftar dinner — the meal that breaks the fast during Ramadan — to speak about issues that are important to the group.”
• Hipsters, New York Observer, Aug. 24:
“But now the progress posters have begun to wither. A new poster, featuring the president’s image superimposed over Frankenstein’s monster’s face, has been spotted around the neighborhood. The Obama T-shirts — it was, recall, ultrahip if you had a particularly faded one, maybe even one dating back to his Illinois state senate campaigns — have been turning up at the Goodwill and at garage sales. The next election is going to be a tough one that invites a question few campaign officials thought would ever be asked: Can Mr. Obama afford to lose the hipsters? Or was the Obama love last year’s record, now destined to wind up in the used bins alongside so many Conor Oberst CD’s?”
• Rich liberals in the Hamptons, Richard Cohen op-ed in Washington Post, Sept. 6:
“Over the Labor Day weekend, I went to a number of events in the Hamptons. At all of them, Obama was discussed. At none of them — that’s none — was he defended. That was remarkable. After all, sitting around various lunch and dinner tables were mostly Democrats. Not only that, some of them had been vociferous Obama supporters, giving time and money to his election effort. They were all disillusioned.”
• Hollywood, Actor Robert Redford op-ed in Huffington Post, Sept. 2:
“I have to believe that President Obama still knows it’s important to protect clean air, water and lands. Like so many, I’m waiting for him to stand up for all that. I’m waiting for him to stand up for our future. But we can’t wait forever.”