Thursday, September 15, 2011
Democrats Fret Aloud Over Obama’s Chances - NYTimes.com
Image via CrunchBaseDemocrats Fret Aloud Over Obama’s Chances - NYTimes.com
NOW?... Wow, some heads have been in the sands of Denial... Been a long time coming, fret away and make up for lost time.
Democrats are expressing growing alarm about President Obama’s re-election prospects and, in interviews, are openly acknowledging anxiety about the White House’s ability to strengthen the president’s standing over the next 14 months.
Elected officials and party leaders at all levels said their worries have intensified as the economy has displayed new signs of weakness. They said the likelihood of a highly competitive 2012 race is increasing as the Republican field, once dismissed by many Democrats as too inexperienced and conservative to pose a serious threat, has started narrowing to two leading candidates, Mitt Romney and Rick Perry, who have executive experience and messages built around job creation.
And in a campaign cycle in which Democrats had entertained hopes of reversing losses from last year’s midterm elections, some in the party fear that Mr. Obama’s troubles could reverberate down the ballot into Congressional, state and local races.
“In my district, the enthusiasm for him has mostly evaporated,” said Representative Peter A. DeFazio, Democrat of Oregon. “There is tremendous discontent with his direction.”
The president’s economic address last week offered a measure of solace to discouraged Democrats by employing an assertive and scrappy style that many supporters complain has been absent for the last year as he has struggled to rise above Washington gridlock. Several Democrats suggested that he watch a tape of the jobs speech over and over and use it as a guide until the election.
But a survey of two dozen Democratic officials found a palpable sense of concern that transcended a single week of ups and downs. The conversations signaled a change in mood from only a few months ago, when Democrats widely believed that Mr. Obama’s path to re-election, while challenging, was secure.
“The frustrations are real,” said Representative Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland, who was the state chairman of Mr. Obama’s campaign four years ago. “I think we know that there is a Barack Obama that’s deep in there, but he’s got to synchronize it with passion and principles.”
There is little cause for immediate optimism, with polls showing Mr. Obama at one of the lowest points of his presidency.
His own economic advisers concede that the unemployment rate, currently 9.1 percent, is unlikely to drop substantially over the next year, creating a daunting obstacle to re-election.
Liberals have grown frustrated by some of his actions, like the decision this month to drop tougher air-quality standards.
And polling suggests that the president’s yearlong effort to reclaim the political center has so far yielded little in the way of additional support from the moderates and independents who tend to decide presidential elections.
“The alarms have already gone off in the Democratic grass roots,” said Robert Zimmerman, a member of the Democratic National Committee from New York, who hopes the president’s jobs plan can be a turning point. “If the Obama administration hasn’t heard them, they should check the wiring of their alarm system.”
At a gathering of the Democratic National Committee in Chicago this weekend, some party leaders sounded upbeat after they toured the Obama campaign headquarters. But others expressed anxiety that Mr. Obama’s accomplishments were not being conveyed loudly enough to ordinary people, that Republican lawmakers were making it impossible for him to get more done, and that Mr. Obama’s conciliatory approach might be translating to some voters as weakness.
“Now that they’re slapping him in the side of the face, he’s coming back,” said William George, a committee member from Pennsylvania. “He needs to start stomping his foot and pounding the desk.” At the White House and at Mr. Obama’s campaign headquarters in Chicago, officials bristled at the critiques, which they dismissed as familiar intraparty carping and second-guessing that would give way to unity and enthusiasm once the nation is facing a clear choice between the president and the Republican nominee.