Drowning aboard the sinking ship of President Obama’s unpopularity, Democrats are throwing out a lifeline to Michelle Obama in their effort to tread water in the U.S. Senate. The first lady is hitting the campaign trail for endangered Democrats while the president, viewed as more of an electoral liability than an asset, is nowhere to be found.
Republicans need to pick up just six seats to gain control of the Senate, and Democrats are doing all they can to keep that from happening and keep Harry Reid in power.
With Fox News showing the president’s job approval rating at 38 percent and a Pew Poll showing the first lady’s favorability above 60 percent, vulnerable Democrats are keeping the commander in chief out of the spotlight.
Michelle Obama recently took center stage in Georgia for Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Michelle Nunn, who is in a hotly contested race with Republican David Perdue. The Real Clear Politics average shows Perdue with a lead of more than 3 percentage points.
The first lady will head to Iowa next month to campaign for Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley in the hotly contested race for U.S. Senate against Republican state Sen. Joni Ernst. The latest Fox News poll views this race as a dead heat, with each candidate at 41 percent.
It’s a sad state of Democratic affairs when the president of the United States is on the midterm JV team and their starting lineup includes a first lady who admitted she had never been “really proud of my country” until a few years ago.
That being said, it’s smart strategy to put Michelle Obama on the trail for two reasons: she is not expected to address the weighty issues, and candidates aren’t weighed down by sharing the stage with an unpopular president.
In Georgia, Michelle Obama discussed voter registration, not voter apathy; global warming, not the global war on terror; and birth control, not border control. Expect to see the Peach State message repeated in the Hawkeye State next month.
In a desperate attempt to maintain control of the Senate, some vulnerable Democrats realize they need to do more than avoid the stage with the president; they are paying valuable campaign dollars to run ads that distance themselves from the him.
Sen. Mark Pryor of Arkansas is in the race of his life against Republican congressman Tom Cotton, who leads the two-term senator by nearly 3 percentage points. Pryor ran an ad highlighting his opposition to the president’s call for tighter gun control laws in light of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
In Kentucky, Alison Lundergan Grimes is 5 points behind the Republican incumbent, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Lundergan Grimes is skeet shooting in her distancing ad as she declares, “I’m not Barack Obama.”
In Alaska, Democratic Sen. Mark Begich is trailing Republican Dan Sullivan in the polls. Begich rolled out his own distancing ad, saying he “took on Obama” to fight for oil drilling in the Arctic and voted against the president’s “trillion-dollar tax increase.”
These vulnerable Senate Democrats can run but they can’t hide from their rubber-stamping of the Obama-Reid agenda. They can roll out Michelle Obama to flex her muscles, but she’s touting a weak case on failed policies. Democrats are sinking under the rising tide of voter frustration and Republicans will ride the wave to gaining control of the Senate in November.
Alice Stewart is host of “The Alice Stewart Show” radio show on KHTE-FM in Arkansas. She is a Republican communications consultant who worked on the presidential campaigns of Gov. Mike Huckabee, Sen. Rick Santorum, and Rep. Michele Bachmann.