The Washington Post notices a curious absence from the campaign stumps of Congressional Democrats: their party leader. Barack Obama has avoided making appearances since his intervention in Massachusetts helped produce the state’s first Republican Senator in almost 40 years. But Anne Kornblut at the Post seems oddly confused about why:
Facing a tough midterm election in which they could potentially lose their majorities in Congress, Democrats are privately debating where and how President Obama can help — or hurt.
The president is unlikely to campaign in Arkansas and hasn’t been to Illinois since last summer, even though both states have important Senate races.
Although many states won’t hold primaries until next month, Obama has appeared at only one campaign rally this year — for Martha Coakley, who lost a special Senate election in Massachusetts. He has held no big events in any number of states — including Pennsylvania, Louisiana and Ohio — with competitive races.
The political calculations are driven in part by Obama’s overall approval rating, which has stayed at 53 percent in Washington Post-ABC News polls for several months. And the nation remains divided over his signature domestic accomplishment, the new health-care law.
That last is a classic piece of cluelessness. If Obama’s approval ratings really were at 53%, Democrats would have him at every rally they could. This should be an indication to the Post that their surveys mainly stink, thanks to dramatic oversamplings of Democrats. Today’s CBS poll showing Obama at 44% and dropping is the reason why Democrats don’t want him anywhere near their campaigns.
If anyone really needs an explanation of how Obama would impact Congressional races, just look at the popularity of ObamaCare. It’s so widely disliked that Obama has had to go on his own campaign tour after the bill has been signed into law to do damage control and spin. How successful has that been? Again, using the CBS poll, Obama’s approval rating has gone down to 34% on what has traditionally been a Democrat-owned issue — among the general population of adults, not registered or likely voters, where it does worse. Obama’s both unpopular and ineffective on the stump.
Most Democrats at risk of losing their seats in the House and Senate are at risk because of Obama. They’re trying to figure out how to run against him in their general elections. The last thing they need is President Obama showing up in their districts and states, talking about himself and his fabulous plan to run health care out of Washington DC, and how he needs the incumbent to help him finish the job. That kind of endorsement might make tar and feathers fashionable again.
Eventually, Obama will wander back onto the midterm campaign trail again; Democrats can’t pretend he doesn’t exist at all. But don’t expect him to make stops in districts and states where Democrats aren’t already safe.