The Washington Post

Memo to Democrats: Running toward Barack Obama might work

U.S. President Barack Obama REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

On Tuesday, we wrote a piece detailing how West Virginia Democratic Rep. Nick Rahall is struggling mightily in his attempt to distance himself from President Obama. The thesis of the piece was that for most Democratic members of Congress, running from the president simply will not work. The Rothenberg Political Report's Nathan Gonzales penned a response piece entitled "Memo to Democrats: Running Toward President Obama might work" in which he makes the case for why bear-hugging the president might be the best move vulnerable Democrats can make this fall. We asked Nathan if we could run a portion of his piece in this space, and he agreed. You can -- and should -- check out his whole piece here.

In 2004, Republican Dave Reichert was elected to Washington’s 8th District with 52 percent in what was then one of the most competitive seats in the country. He immediately became a Democratic target for the following midterm elections, particularly as President George W. Bush’s job ratings began to slide.

But instead of running as far away from President Bush as possible, Reichert invited him to the district for a fundraiser in mid-June 2006.

At the time, this looked like a very risky proposition. Al Gore carried the district in 2000 and John Kerry won it four years later. And it was well after Hurricane Katrina, when the president’s standing was in a tailspin. In June 2006, Bush’s job rating nationally was 37 percent approve/60 percent disapprove, according to Gallup.

Reichert’s team made the calculation that Democrats were going to tie the congressman to Bush anyway, so Reichert might as well get some money to defend himself. Bush raised $830,000 for Reichert at that event, and the congressman went on to a narrow 51 percent victory in the wave that gave Democrats a net gain of 31 seats.

Chris Cillizza writes “The Fix,” a politics blog for the Washington Post. He also covers the White House.



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