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Posted at 08:00 AM ET, 01/31/2012

Obama’s polarizing presidency spells trouble for him in November

The recent Gallup finding that President Obama has been the most polarizing president ever brought about a vigorous defense of the president. Evidently, after he wrote about the Gallup poll, Post columnist Chris Cillizza agreed to publish a response from longtime Democratic Senate staffer Jim Manley.

Manley’s defense of the president was robust: It was the Republicans’ fault. He cited several traditional left-of-center sources to back up his claim and even included a Yale professor to help blame the Republicans. I don’t recall if he threw in former president George W. Bush for good measure, but you get my point.

President Obama is polarizing. How much is debatable. But one thing the Gallup poll makes perfectly clear is that Obama is not the great divider, but the great unifier — of Republicans. What Republicans lack in enthusiasm for the GOP contenders is more than made up in their intense desire to replace Obama.

This should be a warning sign for the Obama campaign. Voter intensity is with the Republicans. That leads to higher turnout, and if we have higher turnout in November, then Obama could lose and the Democratic-controlled Senate would be lost for certain.

The Democrats should not let themselves believe that the noise and squabbles in the GOP contest today will mean anything in November.

If Romney is our nominee, not one Republican voter will sit out the general election, much less support Obama as a result of anything that is said today. “I’m not voting to replace Obama because of some harsh things that were said during the primaries last winter” will not be a refrain heard at any Republican voter gathering in November.

The election will be about Obama and that will be enough to unify and motivate Republican voters, to quote Dick Cheney, “ big time.” Our nominee will have to appeal to a segment of the political center to close the deal and win 270-plus electoral votes. And at this stage that task appears easier for a fresh Mitt Romney than a polarizing Obama.

By  |  08:00 AM ET, 01/31/2012

 
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