It is almost as if the president set out to run the dreariest, least inspiring campaign possible. No agenda (other than a belated brochure that looks like a glossy college marketing catalogue). Snarky insults, rotten debate performances (listless or rude) and incessant trivialization of the campaign and the office. His juvenile rhetoric and contempt for voters’ common sense (they’ll believe Romney is “pro-rape”!) degenerates day by day. It’s not surprising that in a Rolling Stone magazine interview (no “Meet the Press” for him) he referred to Mitt Romney as a “bull*****er.” It is like he is daring sincere Democrats not to vote for him. He sure isn’t making the case that he can work with anyone.

He has reached this stage out of frustration, one can imagine, but also out of necessity. Having decided to forget about the independent voter, undecided suburban voters and liberal Republicans, he’s got nothing left but a screechy appeal to the base, which (unfortunately for him) includes many irregular voters. Insults replace arguments. Cynical attacks replace policy proposals. (No wonder the leftwing bloggers adore him; he sounds just like them.)

And lo and behold, after such a small, petty campaign, Obama has managed to turn off the very voters he has been relying on to make up for the loss of moderate voters. National Journal reports:

As the youth of America struggle with crushing student debt and record-high unemployment, many recent college graduates like Simms are increasingly cynical toward a government they see as misguided, gridlocked, and ripe with broken promises. With an election looming, that pessimism brings into sharp focus the irony that America’s most plugged-in generation is fast becoming Generation Tuned-Out.

In a phenomenon that threatens to repeat itself this fall, many discontented young people sat out the 2010 midterm elections, which were instead dominated by an older, wealthier electorate. An analysis of that election by Project Vote, a nonprofit organization that promotes voting in historically underrepresented communities, shows that, while overall turnout followed patterns typical of past midterm elections, several features stood out: Senior citizens turned out in force; the number of ballots cast by voters from households making more than $200,000 a year increased by 68 percent compared with 2006; and minority and youth voter turnout dropped

Well, that didn’t work out too well for the president, did it? He seems to have forgotten that people really do want to respect their president.

Obama has managed to alienate older, more politically centrist voters while simultaneously depressing young voters. (“Data from Gallup and the Public Religion Research Institute indicate that fewer young people plan to vote in the upcoming election. Gallup found that just 58 percent of young voters say they will ‘definitely vote’ this fall, down from 81 percent in October 2004 and 78 percent in October 2008. . . .The proportion of young voters expressing increased interest in politics this year has plummeted: At this time in 2008, [according to Pew] 69 percent of voters under 30 said they were more interested in politics than four years prior, while today, just 52 percent of that age group expressed an increased interest.”)

There’s some political karma in that. If you appeal to people’s worst instincts, it’s hard to inspire them to vote. In other words, Big Bird made his nest and now can sleep in it. On the upside, it is encouraging that if you run a bottom-feeding campaign, you’ll turn off voters.