The Democratic National Committee has morphed itself into the Obama National Committee through the creation of a hybrid entity. This DNC-funded and Obama campaign staff controlled entity is officially known as "Organizing for America."
Never before has either the DNC or RNC allowed itself to become the interim re-election committee of an incumbent president. Their website address tells you all you need to know: www.barackobama.com.
Just this week, the president himself formally launched his re-election effort by announcing the plans OFA has for the midterm elections. The president released a video launching OFA in declared that OFA's mission is to reconnect with first-time 2008 voters who voted for him but would not necessarily turn out to vote in the 2010 midterm elections. Obama spoke more like a savvy, cigar-chomping political operative than a president when he stated that it was his goal in 2010 to specifically encourage "young people, African-Americans, Latinos and women who powered our victory in 2008 to stand together once again."
Here's how the OFA describes itself:
"Organizing for America, the successor organization to Obama for America, is building on the movement that elected President Obama by empowering communities across the country to bring about our agenda of change.
In 2008, millions of Americans got involved in the political process--many for the first time--to fight for a new kind of politics and a better future for our country. Those voices enabled a new beginning--a chance to pursue the real world change our country needs. Now it's time for our movement to rise again, stand with President Obama, and make that promise a reality.
Last November, the American people sent Washington a clear mandate for change. But when the polls close, the true work of citizenship begins.That's what Organizing for America is all about. Now, in this crucial time, our voice once again has extraordinary power. Let's use it."
OFA plans to spend $50 million dollars in the 2010 election cycle, which is separate and apart from the tens of millions the DNC plans to invest in individual House and Senate races.
The strategy for OFA is to specifically target first time voters for Obama to vote in the midterms. The OFA believes that these voters will vote not out of support for the candidate but out of loyalty to the president. They also seek to lean on the past support and goodwill of young voters, Latinos, Women and African-Americans in getting out the vote in 2010.
OFA tested their strategy in the U.S. Senate special election race in Massachusetts this past year. However, implementation did not exactly turn out as planned. They wound up blaming their candidate for the unexpected loss rather than admit to the fatal combination of a weak candidate and a flawed strategy. -- Just because certain classes of voters voted for Obama in 2008, does not mean that they will come out again for candidates they do not identify with.
The Obama electoral mission is clear in intent but fuzzy on results. The president's team seeks to keep first-time Obama voters engaged enough to want to support the president in his re-election efforts. Historically, however, first time voters in presidential elections do not turn out for midterm elections. Likewise, minority voters likely to vote in presidential elections do not have a pattern of voting in off-year elections. The president and his staff seem to believe that if they can keep these voters engaged, then out of loyalty and support for the president, they will return to the polls even when he is not on the ballot. I just do not see that happening.
To date, this president has had the steepest decline in popularity compared to any other president. So far, his star has become a super-nova as opposed to a birth star. The losses seen this past year by Democrats in New Jersey, Virginia and Massachusetts should have been wake-up calls to the president's supporters that the voters they are seeking to energize for other Democratic candidates in the name of Obama will not work. People will not vote as they are told out of loyalty or affection for anyone, even President Obama.
In addition, polls have suggested that the people of Massachusetts, Virginia and New Jersey were sending a message to the president and to Congress that they are not happy with the status quo and the Democrats' rule.
Obama and his staff are desperately trying to reignite the flame that was lit in 2008 but it may have already been extinguished in 2009.
Bradley A. Blakeman served as deputy assistant to President George W. Bush from 2001-04. He is currently a professor of Politics and Public Policy at Georgetown University and a frequent contributor to the Fox Forum.
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Former deputy assistant to President George W. Bush