Senate Dems looking for distance from Obama, White House

posted at 12:41 pm on February 3, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

If Barack Obama wanted his State of the Union speech to act as a rallying cry for Democrats — and it certainly didn’t offer many olive branches to Republicans — a Politico report suggests that it failed. Lame duck status has fully arrived as the Democrats Obama needs most to unite behind his banner are instead looking for ways to steer clear of it:

President Barack Obama is counting on Senate Democrats to help approve his legislative agenda during his final years in office. And though they are his staunchest allies on most economic issues, many Democratic senators are breaking with him on key issues in very public ways.

From trade to Iran sanctions, the Keystone XL pipeline, Obamacare, the National Security Agency and energy policy, Senate Democrats seem unusually comfortable criticizing the president, with only minimal concerns about repercussions from the White House.

Even Obama’s steadfast ally, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, didn’t mince words last week when he rejected a bill to fast-track trade deals that is strongly backed by the White House, working against Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus of Montana, a Senate colleague who has been tapped to be the president’s ambassador to China.

Burgess Everett offers one explanation — that this is simply poor message coordination:

The rifts might represent nothing more than bad message coordination and a White House that doesn’t do enough to keep Capitol Hill in the loop. President Barack Obama does not have terribly close personal relationships with most Democratic lawmakers, and his legislative affairs shop was riddled with Capitol Hill criticism until the recent addition of longtime Hill staffer Katie Beirne Fallon.

“This White House has been very, how shall I say, it’s not their strong suit to give anybody a heads-up on anything,” said Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) of Obama’s outreach to Democratic senators.

The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza has crunched some numbers, though, and has a different explanation. It’s not messaging, but simple survival instincts at work, especially for the class of 2008 who have to face voters in November:

If the 2014 election is a referendum on President Obama, Democrats are in deep trouble.

That’s according to a new state-by-state study of Obama’s job-approval ratings released by Gallup that puts his disapproval rating at over 50 percent in 10 of the 21 states where Democrats are defending Senate seats this fall. In many of those states,Republicans have recruited strong candidates and are preparing to spend big bucks to win the six seats they need to regain the majority.

Obama is deeply unpopular — with a disapproval rating higher than 55 percent — in five states: West Virginia (67.3 percent disapproval), Montana (60.9 percent), South Dakota (59.3 percent), Arkansas (57 percent) and Alaska (55.4 percent).

Beyond those five seats, there is a second tier of states where the president’s disapproval rating stands somewhere between 50 percent and 55 percent, including: Iowa (50.1 percent disapproval), New Hampshire (50.2 percent), North Carolina (50.4 percent), Colorado (51.2 percent) and Louisiana (53.9 percent).

The problem for these Democrats is that the State of the Union makes the referendum approach impossible to avoid. Obama has declared that he will bypass Congress, and people who are unhappy with Obama only have one way to restrict him now, which is electing Republicans in the midterms. Even with the GOP’s problems among their base, they’re going to get a big turnout for that opportunity. Furthermore, if Senate Democrats aren’t interested in rallying behind Obama, neither will their own base.

This goes way beyond poor messaging and neglect of Capitol Hill relationships. Obama has become toxic in these states, and the only way these incumbents even have a prayer of survival is to stay at arm’s length from the President. Republicans need to keep tying them to Obama, especially ObamaCare, and keep the focus on the White House.


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Republicans need to keep tying them to Obama, especially ObamaCare, and keep the focus on the White House.

Nah. We need to forget about that and do an amnesty push.

oldroy on February 3, 2014 at 12:46 PM

But these Obamacare posts are about whistling past the graveyard, by next Novemeber Democrats will be openly running on the ACA. Mark my words.
libfreeordie on December 20, 2013 at 10:14 AM

Schadenfreude on February 3, 2014 at 12:47 PM

Silly Senate Democrats, you’re only hope is John Boehner – and we are going to RETIRE his azz!

PolAgnostic on February 3, 2014 at 12:47 PM

Does Debbie Washitdownwith-Schlitz know about this?

Flange on February 3, 2014 at 12:48 PM

Don’t worry, the economy will save the Dems.

NotCoach on February 3, 2014 at 12:48 PM

Keystone?

Schadenfreude on February 3, 2014 at 12:48 PM

Harry Reid and scumhags Wasserman-Schultz/Pelosi, hardest hit.

Schadenfreude on February 3, 2014 at 12:49 PM

Keystone?

Schadenfreude on February 3, 2014 at 12:48 PM

Economy beer for the folks in flyover country.

oldroy on February 3, 2014 at 12:49 PM

Defiant witch – out, out, out.

Schadenfreude on February 3, 2014 at 12:50 PM

Own it – gun confiscation and obamacare.

bbhack on February 3, 2014 at 12:50 PM

Throw the liar out.

Schadenfreude on February 3, 2014 at 12:51 PM

Furthermore, if Senate Democrats aren’t interested in rallying behind Obama, neither will their own base.

I would think that would mean they are a divided caucus. They keep trying to pin that label on the GOP, but they are the ones that will be looking for cover going against Obozo and his policies. I’m not holding my breath that the GOP will capitalize on this. But it should be easy.

Patriot Vet on February 3, 2014 at 12:51 PM

Cue Brittany’s toxic video

cmsinaz on February 3, 2014 at 12:51 PM

Throw Hagen out

Schadenfreude on February 3, 2014 at 12:51 PM

Out, go home, witch.

Schadenfreude on February 3, 2014 at 12:52 PM

Send Pryor home

Schadenfreude on February 3, 2014 at 12:53 PM

I don’t blame them. Who wants to be associated with a pathelogical liar?

sadatoni on February 3, 2014 at 12:53 PM

Sweet justice w/b if Carl Levin got replace by the R woman.

Schadenfreude on February 3, 2014 at 12:53 PM

if Levin got replaced by Terri Lynn.

Mary Landrieu has to go the way of Blanche Lincoln!!!

Schadenfreude on February 3, 2014 at 12:57 PM

The national press is in the hoping beyond hope mode; trying to make it seem like the Democrat control of the Senate is still possible.

Gawd, I can’t wait for the GOP to use the new filibuster rules.

Tater Salad on February 3, 2014 at 12:58 PM

The Man

Schadenfreude on February 3, 2014 at 12:59 PM

Referendum on the best president the USA ever had

Schadenfreude on February 3, 2014 at 1:01 PM

At some point the insurance companies are going to vote to save themselves versus Obama and the Dem’s; they won’t wait until after the election to send the cancellation and rate increase notices.

However don’t be surprised if Obama has the DOJ threaten them with some sort of legal action if they do.

Tater Salad on February 3, 2014 at 1:02 PM

“President Barack Obama is counting on Senate Democrats to help approve his legislative agenda” …

Obama has a “legislative agenda” ?

I thought he was going to use his pen and phone ?!?

J_Crater on February 3, 2014 at 1:04 PM

If Barack Obama wanted his State of the Union speech to act as a rallying cry for Democrats…a Politico report suggests that it failed.

No, no. I say that it worked.

Just look at how the Democrats have all rallied together and are crying aloud.

They’re wailing like little kids forced to go to a party for the icky child that everyone hates and they’re mad that they’re expected to bring him presents and stuff.

In this case, the icky child’s name is Barack.

Well, I’m wailing like a little kid too because I don’t get to go to any of icky Barack’s countless parties, but am nevertheless expected to shell out and give him an expensive present every time.

So, see? Obama’s speech worked as intended. Better than intended, actually.

FlameWarrior on February 3, 2014 at 1:07 PM

Is this one of those threads where we insert, “Embrace The Suck.” ?

Bmore on February 3, 2014 at 1:07 PM

Heh – I keep saying that democrats will embrace the call to repeal ObamaCare – once Obama is gone….
because their very survival depends on it…..

The GOP will be their own worst enemy if they keep helping Obama.

redguy on February 3, 2014 at 1:08 PM

I thought he was going to use his pen and phone ?!?

J_Crater on February 3, 2014 at 1:04 PM

Schadenfreude on February 3, 2014 at 1:09 PM

Senate Dems looking for distance from Obama, White House

Of course, you know what this means:

Time to pass Comprehensive Immigration Reform!

/GOPe logic

There Goes the Neighborhood on February 3, 2014 at 1:10 PM

“I voted for Obamacare” should be tattooed on all their foreheads starting with Miss Piggie.

vityas on February 3, 2014 at 1:15 PM

An old farmer once told me “not to kick a horse turd – it might stick to your shoe.” Dems – you now have a horse turd stuck to your shoe….

HomeoftheBrave on February 3, 2014 at 1:19 PM

I hope they fail…

OmahaConservative on February 3, 2014 at 1:22 PM

Embrace the suck democrats, you own it…..

crosshugger on February 3, 2014 at 1:27 PM

Survival instincts.

You mean like a wolf with one leg caught in a trap. Don’t google this visual, it will only break your heart. Or not.

Bmore on February 3, 2014 at 1:32 PM

Senate Democrats, INCLUDING Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Harry Reid, etc., took control of the Senate 7 years and 1 month ago: 1/3/2007.

It is always important to remind people of what exactly what Obama, Biden, Clinton, Kerry, Reid, Pelosi etc. “inherited” when they took majority control of both houses of Congress (and therefore majority control of Washington, D.C.) on January 3, 2007:

1) A FY 2007 deficit of less than $161 Billion, representing 1.2% of GDP (well below the 1947-2007 average deficit of 1.6% of GDP).

2) Total National Debt under $8.7 Trillion.

3) Employment-population Ratio (% employment for civilian noninstitutional population age 16 years and over): 63.4%

Democrats inherited a GOOD economy, then quickly drove it into a ditch and left it sitting there for over 4 years.

Democrat majorities have sent deficits skyrocketing, averaging 7.5% of GDP. Far and away the worst deficits since WWII.

Democrat majorities have sent debt skyrocketing, up 99% since they took majority control.

Democrat majorities have gone 52 consecutive months with the Employment-Population Ratio at or below 58.7%.

If we had the same level of employment now that we enjoyed in December 2005 (when Republicans last controlled the House, Senate, and Presidency), over 11.8 Million more people would be employed.

ITguy on February 3, 2014 at 1:37 PM

We also need to replace some of the GOP leadership.

Ryan I think needs to go. I like him on the budget and think his instincts on a way to fix Medicare – while a little timid – reflect a certain reality. But Medicare isn’t going to happen on his watch because no one else is with him; he lost the sequestor victory with the current budget arrangement, and doing amnesty now (not even whether to do it or not) is a death wish. He needs to go. Even if replaced by a democrat he needs to go.

Zomcon JEM on February 3, 2014 at 1:37 PM

Distance themselves? You mean like the pack of rats who avoid the one that got sprayed by the skunk?

Don L on February 3, 2014 at 1:45 PM

Series Id: LNU05026645
Not Seasonally Adjusted
Series title: (Unadj) Not in Labor Force, Searched For Work and Available, Discouraged Reasons For Not Currently Looking
Labor force status: Not in labor force
Type of data: Number in thousands
Age: 16 years and over
Job desires/not in labor force: Want a job now
Reasons not in labor force: Discouragement over job prospects (Persons who believe no job is available.)

January 1995 – December 2006, Republican majority average: 371k
January 2007 – December 2013, Democrat majority average: 792k
January 2009 – December 2013, Obama administration average: 942k

More than two and half times the number of discouraged workers under Obama than there were under Republican majorities 1995-2006!

Obama promised “HOPE” and “CHANGE”, but the change he brought was a substantial increase in discouragement, not hope.

ITguy on February 3, 2014 at 1:46 PM

If Barack Obama wanted his State of the Union speech to act as a rallying cry for Democrats…a Politico report suggests that it failed.

Rasmussen polling did not show any improvement in his polling after the SOTU speech.

KW64 on February 3, 2014 at 1:51 PM

#SendBegichPacking!

ConservativePartyNow on February 3, 2014 at 1:53 PM

More pens forward!

Tsar of Earth on February 3, 2014 at 2:14 PM

No worries! King Barack the Magnificent will tell those Senators “Don’t worry, you have ME!”

GarandFan on February 3, 2014 at 2:17 PM

If Barack Obama wanted his State of the Union speech to act as a rallying cry for Democrats…a Politico report suggests that it failed.

Rasmussen polling did not show any improvement in his polling after the SOTU speech.

KW64 on February 3, 2014 at 1:51 PM

Contrast that with CNN, whose own “poll” showed a 76% SOTU approval for his speech. Talk about push=polling!

Del Dolemonte on February 3, 2014 at 2:29 PM