Obama's populist pitch fizzles

The White House hoped to hammer Republicans this year on an array of pocketbook issues centered on hiking the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, an effort meant to appeal to independents and rally Democrats to the polls.

Three months in, Obama’s approval ratings are flailing in the low 40s, and Senate Democrats haven’t even been able to unify their 55 members on a minimum wage bill.

That’s made it tougher to contrast the positions of Democrats with Republicans in an election year that is shaping up to be about the healthcare law and Obama.

“You always want a contrast. It’s always better to have votes to run on, and there hasn’t been a lot to run on so far,” said Jim Manley, a former spokesman to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) who is now with QGA Public Affairs. “Republicans have done a good job stalling the debate on the Hill.”