According to the latest George Washington University Battleground poll, 70 percent of voters think that things in the United States have gotten off on the wrong track and that the country is headed in the wrong direction. It stands to reason that as a result, many Americans will vote against the Democrats. Fair or not, the way to vote against the status quo is to vote against the president’s party.
Obviously, a lot of things contribute to why people think the country is headed in the wrong direction, but this poll reveals something I don’t think I have ever seen before. In an open-ended question, the No. 1 reason voters gave for why they believe the country has gotten off-track is because they “have issues with Obama/think the country has a lack of leadership.” It is a remarkable finding, given President Obama’s eloquence and the White House communications tools at his disposal. The White House has the unique ability to deliver an unfiltered, uncluttered message to the American people — something no one else in U.S. politics can do. Yet despite that platform, the president’s performance is specifically mentioned as the reason the United States is off-track.
We’re already seen how Democratic senators running for reelection and Democratic candidates trying to appeal to moderate voters are actively hiding from the president. But there is no escaping the fact that Obama is seen as central to the problems facing our country. Politically, you are either on the president’s team or you’re not. There really isn’t any quick remedy for changing that perception. The only thing I can think of that could reverse it would be some unknown, calamitous event that might cause people to rally to the president and perhaps his party.
So what should the president do besides make himself scarce during the 2014 campaign season? Certainly he should raise money, but even then, it seems the only time the president makes news these days is when he says something at a fundraiser. He should do his fundraising quietly. Voters seems to resent all the time he spends fundraising and obviously not tending to the nation’s growing list of worrisome problems.
I worked in the White House during three midterm election cycles, and there is a prevalent belief that the president can help with turnout in the last few days before an election. I actually question that notion, even with a popular president. President Reagan couldn’t make a difference with his Senate candidates in 1986, and it appears anything Obama does to raise his profile is bad for the entire Democratic ticket.
Oh, by the way, speaking of being on the wrong track, today’s unemployment news doesn’t help anyone. It simply reinforces what we already knew: The Obama economy is weak and anemic, and the “recovery” has been mostly jobless. The causes of the lackluster economy are not unknown — they are directly attributable to the Democrats, Obamacare, the rise of government dependence and punitive environmental and labor policies that stifle growth and job creation. There is little chance that anything is going to happen to boost the economy and make people want to vote Democratic between now and November.
Seventy percent of people think the country is heading in the wrong direction, and no amount of clever campaigning is going to change that. The only chance the Democrats have is to go viciously negative early, making everyone disgusted and turned off by the campaign and driving down turnout to be as low as possible. Sounds like a plan.
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