No more “Yes, we can.” The atmospherics of the current race will be completely different than they were four years ago. Because the national reaction to the administration’s agenda has been shaped by the partisan polarization in Congress (the pervasiveness of which appeared to surprise Obama when he took office), the hope for rapid transformation has yielded to the reality of incremental progress against tough odds and entrenched opposition. Thus, the exuberant poetry of 2008 will have to give way to sober prose.
No more youth movement. There is no way that the Obama campaign can expect to recreate the excitement that moved so many young and first-time voters not only to turn out to vote but also to work their hearts out for their hero. While it’s unlikely that Romney will get a larger share of the youth vote than McCain did, it’s equally unlikely that Obama will get as many votes from this pool as he did four years ago.
Blue-state big business has moved on. Team Obama will not be able to raise the kind of money from Wall Street and Silicon Valley that it did in 2008. For complex reasons, relations between the president and substantial portions of the private sector have soured. Although the President’s criticisms are mild by New Deal standards, members of the New York financial sector reportedly resent being called “fat cats,” and some are responding by closing their checkbooks. Worse yet, some may soon be opening them to Mitt Romney, who speaks their language and is willing to stroke their egos.