The Fix: Trail Mix

Chris Cillizza: The Fix on the campaign trail

The Fix: Trail Mix
Wednesday, October 27, 2010

What the midterms will mean for Obama

With conventional wisdom congealing around the idea that Democrats are likely to lose the House and narrowly hold onto their majority in the Senate, plenty of people are talking about what the midterm election results might mean for President Obama's 2012 reelection race.

The most common analysis emerging from this chatter is that the midterms will be nothing but bad news for Obama - a rejection of the agenda he pushed over the past two years and a spark of encouragement for the Republican men (and woman?) who are preparing to run against him.

But a new Pew poll suggests that there is danger in reading too much about 2012 into next week's results. Asked whether they would like to see Obama run for a second term, 47 percent of respondents said they would, while 42 percent said they wouldn't.

Those numbers may not look like much, but when compared with the showing of past presidents on the question, Obama appears relatively strong. At this time in 1994, for example, 44 percent of people said they would like Bill Clinton to run again, and 47 percent said they wouldn't. Ronald Reagan's numbers were far more dismal, with 36 percent for him seeking a second term and 51 percent against it in August 1982.

Health-care switchers

"I voted for it before I voted against it." It's a quote that many cite as Sen. John F. Kerry 's downfall in the 2004 presidential election. (The Massachusetts Democrat was talking about funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.)

When it comes to health-care legislation, however, it turns out that it may be more harmful to have voted against the bill before voting for it. That's a lesson Democrats are learning in the eight districts where the party's congressman voted against the first version of the measure last November before voting in favor of the second - and final - version in March.

Of those eight seats, Democrats are favored to hold just one after next Tuesday's elections. Seats held by retiring Rep. Bart Gordon (Tenn.) as well as Reps. Betsy Markey (Colo.) and Suzanne Kosmas (Fla.) have been left for dead, and so might that of Rep. Allen Boyd (Fla.). Also, the seats of retiring Rep. Brian Baird (Wash.) and Reps. John Boccieri (Ohio) and Scott Murphy (N.Y.) look very vulnerable. The lone no-to-yes switcher who looks to be in solid shape is Rep. Dennis Kucinich (Ohio).

Meanwhile, five Democrats flipped from "yes" on the first bill to "no" on final passage. By comparison, they're looking pretty safe.

Rocky rhode

One day after Rhode Island Treasurer Frank Caprio (D) went on a radio show to fume about President Obama declining to endorse him in the state's three-way gubernatorial contest, Caprio's camp announced that another (former) president is coming to campaign for him.

Bill Clinton will stump for Caprio on Sunday, making his second visit to the state on behalf of the Democratic gubernatorial hopeful. In a release, Caprio's camp called Rhode Island "Clinton Country."

Obama declined to make an endorsement in the race, which also features former GOP senator Lincoln D. Chafee, who is running as an independent, and Republican John Robitaille. Polls show a tight race between Chafee and Caprio, with Robitaille trailing.

On Monday, Caprio said that Obama could "take his endorsement and really shove it" after the White House indicated that it would not be taking sides in the race out of respect for Chafee, who endorsed Obama during his 2008 presidential bid.

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