WaPo: White House writes off Wisconsin as lost

posted at 9:15 am on October 29, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

The Washington Post says that the White House has a message for Wisconsin Democrats: You’re on your own.  In a report on the desperate triage taking place inside the Oval Office, presidential advisers are attempting to find places where Barack Obama can’t hurt Democrats and where candidates have a reasonable chance for success.  That means Russ Feingold and Wisconsin have seen their last of Obama in the midterm cycle:

For months, Obama’s advisers had sorted through his political travel schedule during the Monday meetings, downstairs near the White House mess. Top advisers swapped ideas from their areas of expertise.

More recently, the group – which includes strategist David Plouffe, pollster Joel Benenson, senior adviser David Axelrod, scheduler Alyssa Mastromonaco, communications director Dan Pfeiffer, political director Patrick Gaspard and Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina – has homed in on individual candidate performances, participants said. The potential strength of each state’s political networks also was taken into account.

In some cases, the White House had Benenson conduct his own polling to test the president’s message and approval in specific environments, including in Florida, Colorado and Pennsylvania. More often, they looked to internal polling by the campaigns and by the Democratic committees,. From there, they would figure out how to match the public mood with the financial ability of the campaigns to foot the expense of bringing in the president.

Heading into the final stretch, the White House was mindful that in earlier off-year campaigns in Massachusetts, New Jersey and Virginia, Obama had been unable to turn Democrats’ fortunes with last-minute visits. So it made little sense to book him for lost causes. Instead, they hoped to guarantee victories or tip the scales in close calls.

Wisconsin, for instance, could have been an easy stop, given that it is so close to Chicago. But it was quickly eliminated after the Senate seat began to slip from Democratic Sen. Russell Feingold‘s grasp, even after a presidential visit to Madison, Wis., last month. Republican Ron Johnson now appears to have a solid lead.

That may not be a surprise for those of us who have watched the polling in Wisconsin — Feingold hasn’t been above 46% all year — but the White House acknowledgment of Feingold’s upcoming failure will almost certainly take Wisconsin Democrats by surprise.  Obama toured Wisconsin at the end of September on behalf of Feingold, who had been rumored to be avoiding being seen with Obama and showed up at the rally to explicitly link himself to the President.  To no one’s surprise, that did nothing to increase support for Feingold or the Democrats in general in Wisconsin.

The Post article paints a remarkable picture of a collapsing universe for Obama in the final days of the midterms.  Not only did Obama and his team have to worry about damaging Democrats in states like Kentucky and West Virginia, they also had to protect themselves from the kind of damage sustained by Obama after supporting surprise losers like Martha Coakley and Jon Corzine in the final hours of their campaigns.  In the end, Obama will only visit Chicago, Philadelphia, Cleveland, and Bridgeport (Connecticut), safely blue harbors in a red storm rising.

The choice of Bridgeport seems particularly odd.  Dick Blumenthal has opened up a sizable lead in most polls in the Senate race, but apparently the White House isn’t convinced.  They’re also worried, despite their publicly-expressed optimism about Democratic efforts to hold onto the House, about losing the Senate:

The most curious stop is Connecticut, where Richard Blumenthal, the Democratic Senate candidate, appears to have a comfortable lead over Republican Linda McMahon. Rep. Jim Himes, a freshman Democrat who represents Bridgeport, also seems to be in decent shape.

But White House officials, stung by Republican Scott Brown’s surprising Senate victory in a special election in Massachusetts in January, do not want to see the year end in a similar manner in another traditionally Democratic New England state.

Even though the seat appears to be in hand, White House officials consider holding onto Connecticut critical to maintaining Senate control.

If they’re still worried about Linda McMahon and Senate control, one can only imagine how they see the House races turning.


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

Comment pages: 1 2

Well….it wasn’t as if they weren’t warned.

capejasmine on October 29, 2010 at 12:39 PM

Seems odd that Obama would go to Virginia 5th district. Real Clear Politics has it as “lean Republican” and most polls has Hurt up by high single or even double digits

Capitalist Infidel on October 29, 2010 at 9:37 AM

He just thinks he looks good on the steps of the rotunda. Plus he’ll get a warm welcome from all the socialists in the political science department. I’ll never forget 911, I was in the huge reading room at the front of Alderman Library (UVA campus)–they had brought a couple of TV’s in so people could follow what was going on. My boss gave me permission to go hang out and watch the developments. I couldn’t believe some of the stuff I was hearing around me. “Doesn’t this seem just like something Bush would do?” “A little payback from the Third World. It’s about time.” Etc. Some people almost got smacked that morning.

smellthecoffee on October 29, 2010 at 12:43 PM

Even tho CN is a sure bet for the Dems (although Rush was still optimistic this morning), it’s obvious that Obummer’s going there so he can take credit for the win – ANY win.

KS Rex on October 29, 2010 at 12:50 PM

. I couldn’t believe some of the stuff I was hearing around me. “Doesn’t this seem just like something Bush would do?” “A little payback from the Third World. It’s about time.” Etc. Some people almost got smacked that morning.

smellthecoffee on October 29, 2010 at 12:43 PM

I live next door to an elderly man. He’s nice enough, but on 9/11 he told me, and my other neighbors, America got what it deserved. I’ve barely spoken since. If it weren’t for his wife, who’s been ill, I wouldn’t have a thing to do with him. I have a hard time forgiving anyone that believes the innocent people in the buildings, on the ships, in the planes, deserved this.

capejasmine on October 29, 2010 at 1:02 PM

yo, Herb Kohl !

You’re next.

ignatzk on October 29, 2010 at 10:40 PM

To understand the climate here in the solid blue portion of ‘sconsin … the Wisconsin State Journal – the main and reliably left-of-center paper in Madison endorsed CHAD LEE over Tammy Baldwin.
 
Sh Sh Sh Shatttered, sha doo bee

ignatzk on October 29, 2010 at 10:43 PM

To understand the climate here in the solid blue portion of ‘sconsin … the Wisconsin State Journal – the main and reliably left-of-center paper in Madison endorsed CHAD LEE over Tammy Baldwin.

Sh Sh Sh Shatttered, sha doo bee

ignatzk on October 29, 2010 at 10:43 PM

WOW. I had not heard that. Any idea how she is polling?

As for Feingold. Pffft. My how far he has fallen from once being touted as Gore’s VP.

91Veteran on October 30, 2010 at 3:21 AM

WOW. I had not heard that. Any idea how she is polling?

As for Feingold. Pffft. My how far he has fallen from once being touted as Gore’s VP.

91Veteran on October 30, 2010 at 3:21 AM

I haven’t seen any polls in that district, or the 3rd.

steveegg on October 30, 2010 at 8:31 AM

Comment pages: 1 2