Demand For Obama Wanes Among Democrats
Moderate House Democrats facing potentially difficult reelections this fall have a message for Barack Obama: Don’t call us; we’ll call you. Interviews with nearly a dozen congressional Democrats on the ballot this year reveal a decided lack of enthusiasm for having Obama come to their districts to campaign for them — the most basic gauge of a president’s popularity. Some cite the president’s surely busy schedule. Others point to a practice of not bringing in national politicians to appear on their behalf. While these members aren’t necessarily attempting to distance themselves from the administration, there is nevertheless a noticeable reluctance to embrace the president among a certain class of incumbent, now that Obama’s approval rating has fallen to a new low — 46 percent in the latest Gallup survey. It’s not an unusual development — President George W. Bush suffered a similar fate. As his popularity dipped and he became a more polarizing figure, few moderate Republicans wanted to be seen with him in their states for fear the association would be used against them by their rivals. The difference, however, is that Bush was narrowly elected twice in a country divided between red and blue states, while Obama shredded that map.With his success in the interior West and upper South, Obama was thought to be such a political asset that he could play almost anywhere in the country. But the sense of uncertainty over what to do with Obama seen last year in Virginia — in which Democratic gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds wrestled with whether to run with or from the president before ultimately embracing him in the campaign’s final weeks — now seems to be evolving into a firmer feeling among many centrist Democrats that they’d be better off without Obama appearing in their districts with them. The White House got a taste of the awkwardness to come last week in Missouri, when Democratic Senate candidate Robin Carnahan and Rep. Russ Carnahan (D-Mo.) were both no-shows at a fundraiser Obama keynoted in suburban St. Louis. (Sen. Claire McCaskill, an early Obama supporter who received some of the event’s proceeds for her 2012 reelection campaign, did attend.) Other Democrats want to spare Obama the trouble. “This will be my second election with a Democratic incumbent president, and what I’ve found is that their schedules are usually booked full — and so I don’t expect him,” said North Dakota Rep. Earl Pomeroy, whose campaign for a 10th term is shaping up as his most difficult yet.