Democrats are becoming increasingly alarmed about their midterm election fortunes amid President Obama’s sinking approval ratings, a loss in a special House election in Florida last week, and millions of dollars spent by Republican-aligned groups attacking the new health law.

The combination has led to uncharacteristic criticism of Mr. Obama and bitter complaints that his vaunted political organization has done little to help the party’s vulnerable congressional candidates. …

Interviews with more than two dozen Democratic members of Congress, state party officials and strategists revealed a new urgency about the need to address the party’s prospects. One Democratic lawmaker, who asked not to be identified, said Mr. Obama was becoming “poisonous” to the party’s candidates. At the same time, Democrats are pressing senior aides to Mr. Obama for help from the political network.


President Barack Obama and his Democrats face the challenge of limiting fallout from Obamacare and drumming up voter enthusiasm in the November congressional elections, problem areas exposed by the loss of a Florida candidate who had led in the polls.

The defeat of Democrat Alex Sink by Republican David Jolly in a special election last Tuesday has raised anxiety levels for Democrats as they struggle to hold on to control of the Senate in November and pick up seats in the Republican-held House of Representatives.

Paramount on the Democrats’ list of concerns about November is the need to ensure that voters feel motivated to go to the polls. Obama won handily in presidential elections in 2008 and 2012, but Democrats lost control of the House in the 2010 midterm elections, when his name was not on the ballot. …

A focus simply on turnout, however, could distract party leaders from recognizing the dangers presented by the president’s healthcare law and, with his approval rating mired in the mid-40s, his relative unpopularity.


Democratic strategist Paul Begala has some advice for Dems who are worried about their “messaging” on Obamacare after the special election loss: Stop being so damn defensive about the law and show people it’s worth fighting for, already.

“We should flip the wording of how we talk about Obamacare,” Begala told me today. “Open on offense, instead of on defense.”

Begala’s advice is rooted in a clear eyed assessment of the real Obamacare problem Dems face. It isn’t just that the law is unpopular with swing voters — yes, disapproval is running high, but repeal is also unpopular, which offers a way to fight disapproval to a draw. The more pressing problem is that Obamacare revs up the GOP base — worsening the “midterm falloff” turnout problem already present in non-presidential years — but it doesn’t excite the Dem base anywhere near enough to offset that problem.


The South is where President Barack Obama and Democrats long have struggled, and it’s where the party’s toughest battleground will be this year in the fight for control of the U.S. Senate.

Three incumbents must face the consequences of having voted for Obama’s health care law, but Republicans first must settle primaries in several states, including a challenge to Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

All but one of the potentially competitive races is in a state Obama lost in 2012, and the president remains deeply unpopular among whites in the region. Republicans are optimistic they can achieve the six-seat gain needed to retake the Senate.

Democratic Sens. Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Mark Pryor of Arkansas are on the ballot for the first time since voting for the Affordable Care Act in 2010. The law’s wobbly start and its image as a power-grab have the incumbents on the defensive, emphasizing local issues and avoiding unnecessary mention of the second-term president who leads their party.


Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu has reserved $2.6 million in air time between mid-April and the end of June, according to a source tracking the ad war in the race for her Louisiana seat.

The endangered incumbent claimed nearly $2 million in time between April 21 and June 29 for 30-second TV commercials and an additional $645,000 from April 14 to May 25 for 60-second spots.

Republicans, who have relentlessly attacked Landrieu for her support of President Barack Obama’s health care law, called the large and early ad reservations a sign of desperation.

“The wheels are coming off of Mary Landrieu’s campaign,” emailed National Republican Senatorial Committee strategist Brad Dayspring. “This is what panic looks like … Perhaps Mary Landrieu demanding that voters make her reelect a referendum on Obamacare wasn’t the brightest idea.”


Repeal is not a policy. Repeal provides no economic security for anyone. So I think the Democrats need to go on the offense, explain how the Republican Party wants to repeal healthcare, which is a right, wants to take back those policies that would prevent discrimination against women, against people who have preexisting conditions and then lay out a robust economic agenda, minimum wage, better jobs which are being obstructed by Republicans in congress, pre-K, all kinds of things that will turn out core voters.


If [President Obama] doesn’t get, as I said, more involved in raising money, in getting voters excited, we know as you said that Obamacare is going to bring Republicans out. What issues can the president try to put on the table to get Democrats excited? If he doesn’t get more involved in raising money and making this a choice as Dan Pfeiffer said, you lose the Senate and if you lose the Senate, turn out the lights because the party’s over.