Midterm elections are less than three months away and as leader of the Democratic party, President Obama has been hitting the road hard this month, appearing with candidates and attending big money fundraisers. Both are typical for an election year. It's the president's non-campaign events that are worth noting...
With a speech before the National Urban League, visits to the various assembly plants of the "Big Three" automakers, and an appearance on the daytime talk show "The View", Mr. Obama bas been reaching out to African Americans, organized labor, and women -- all factions of the Democratic base. And while it seems logical for a president to reach out to the party's base in an election year -- to assure voter turnout -- some analysts believe such appearances are targeted because those factions of the party are disappointed with Mr. Obama.
"It's pretty clear from every poll I've seen that Democrats are not enthused and engaged but Republicans are," says Larry Sabato of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia. Sabato notes Democrats haven't been very excited thus far this year in part because of a bad economy, an issue that fires up Republicans.
"Your typical Republican base voter right now is extremely eager to get to the polls and register a vote against this Congress and against this president's agenda because of the massive spending the size of government and the growing deficits," says Republican strategist Kevin Madden.
"Some anger, some frustration, some dissatisfaction is the main motivating factor, that's normally true in midterm elections," acknowledges Sabato. "Midterm elections are classic message-sending opportunities for voters. They like to tell the Congress and the president for how they think the country is being run. Is the country on the right track or is it on the wrong track?"
It's a question asked by some of those in the Democratic base. Latino groups have become increasingly dissatisfied with President Obama's failed promise to fix the country's immigration system by passing federal immigration bill. A recent Associated Press poll shows only 43 percent of Hispanics think the president is adequately addressing their needs, while 21 percent say he's done a poor job. Still, 57 percent of Hispanics approve of the president's overall job performance, and the administration's lawsuit against Arizona's anti-illegal immigration law may raise the president's rating even higher with these voters.
Gay and lesbian groups have voiced their disappointment in President Obama since his first year in office for sending mixed messages over "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and gay marriage. This week the president said he applauded the reversal of California's Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage, yet he still limits his support to same-sex unions.
"There is absolutely no doubt that we wish he was a strong and vocal proponent of marriage equality. That is an issue on which we unfortunately disagree with our president and we are very disappointed," Fred Sainz of the Human Rights Campaign tells Fox. Nonetheless, "At the same time we have to recognize all of the issues with which he stands with us on," Sainz adds, "We'll take an ally that's with us on 99% of the issues, rather than an ally that's with us on 0% of the issues."
An ally Mr. Obama is losing -- the independent. The president's support among them is down nearly 20 percent over the past year. And while that voting block is less likely to come out for the midterm than for a general election, analysts predict they just might.
"Real events are motivating the Republicans' base. Real events are depressing turnout among Democrats," Sabato tells Fox.
"His [Obama's] current political struggles and downward trend is largely the result of his poor standing with independent voters, who are now more closely aligned with Republican sentiments on the top issues," says Madden. "The White House, I expect, is most troubled by Obama's declining image with voters on key attributes: voters increasingly view him as an ineffective leader and unable to understand or properly address the major challenges the country faces."
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