Are Democrats Sunk?
That's the title of Kevin Drum's latest post. Obviously the answer is "no"--it's a long way to 2010. On the other hand, I'm surprised that he describes himself as "laughing off" a pretty effective NRCC fundraising email describing the obvious strategy of bashing the hell out of Democrats about all the money we've spent over the last year.
He goes on:
Comments? Is lefty obsession with the public option going to torpedo Dems in 2010? Or will everyone manage to get energized in time for the midterms? I live in California, where elections are almost all preordained, so it's hard for me to judge. What's it like in the rest of the country?
A few data points:
- Obama has scored some of the lowest Gallup approval ratings of any president at this point in his term
- 44% of Americans told PPP, a Democratic polling outfit, that they'd vote for Bush over Obama. I mean, Obama still won handily, but when George W. Bush is polling 44% against you, you have to worry.
- Pollster.com now has health care reform at 53% against, 38% for.
- Charlie Cook's tracking of the shifts in political races certainly doesn't look good. Here are the results for Congressional races:
- Solid Democrat to Likely Democrat: 7
- Likely Democrat to Solid Democrat: 1
- Likely Democrat to Lean Democrat: 5
- Likely Democrat to Toss Up: 2
- Lean Democrat to Toss Up: 4
- Toss Up to Lean Democrat: 1
- Toss Up to Lean Republican: 1
- Lean Republican to Likely Republican: 1
- Likely Republican to Solid Republican: 1
Out of 23 races, two moved towards Democrats, while 21 moved towards Republicans. I don't want to oversell this point--13 of those are still at least "leaning" Democratic. But the momentum is all going the wrong way. Nancy Pelosi has said she's willing to lose 20 seats if that's what it takes to do health care, but that's easy for her to say--her seat is safe. It's also a little delusional, because at this point, she is almost certain to lose 15-20 seats no matter what.
Update: I should add that I think that Kevin's right on one thing: the base is a real problem for the party. I was talking to a libertarian friend yesterday who is a professor in the midwest, and we were marvelling at just how delusional many Obama voters seem to have been about what he was going to accomplish. Don't get me wrong--I certainly don't approve of everything Obama has done. But the guy got elected to be president of the United States, not Prime Minister of Sweden. Anyone who seriously entertained the notion that the procedural obstacles to enacting legislation in the United States would suddenly fall away--along with the essentially center-right politics of the American voter--is probably not mature enough to be driving.
Yet Obama's progressive base is incredibly demoralized by the inability to pass sweeping cap and trade and health care legislation without input from conservatives, or special interest groups. To me, it seems obvious that they should still be strongly supporting Obama and Democrats, for all their flaws. But it doesn't seem to be obvious to them, and it looks like they're not going to mobilize for 2010 the way they did in 2008, even if Congress manages to pass some monstrous kludge of a health care bill in the new year.