Thursday, August 26, 2010

Democrats opposing Obama and Pelosi

Greg Sargent notes several Blue Dog Democrats like Jason Altmire and Bobby Bright of Alabama plus a couple of others who are airing ads boasting that they've stood up to Obama and Pelosi. They brag of their votes against the Democrats' health reform. You can watch their ads bragging about they stood up to the party leadership at the link. Apparently, the Democratic leaders have given the okay for such Democrats to do whatever they need to do in order to win.
Dem leaders have signaled to individual lawmakers that it's okay for them to do what they have to do in order to establish distance from the Dem leadership in Washington. But this is a dicey balancing act. While doing this may help Dems survive in tough districts, it gives Republicans who want to nationalize the elections fresh ammo to push their larger message that the Obama/Dem agenda is politically toxic and has failed.
Perhaps this is why Democratic representatives are speaking off the record to Politico about their increasingly pessimistic forecasts for November. And they're rather ticked at the White House.
They had hoped Obama’s popularity – and appeal with base voters and donors – would help at the edges. “The concern I have is that the president is doing poorly in places you need him to perform strongly with your base,” a state party chair told POLITICO. “You need to have confidence in your leader.”

Several House Democratic sources said they are furious with the White House for keeping the debate over a New York mosque in play for two weeks – and then announcing Obama will use a prime-time address next week to discuss Iraq, not the economy. By the calculations of House Democrats, this means that by Labor Day they will have spent nearly nine weeks this summer beating back negative or unhelpful story lines instigated, in part or in total, by the White House.

Finally, Democrats had hoped memories of unpopular Republican rule under George W. Bush would convince swing voters against installing a Republican House again.

“The problem is that a lot of the message talks to the base, and we’ve got to talk to the middle,” a former state Democratic Party chairman said. “You can only blame Bush for so long.”
We'll see if the Blue Dogs have a winning strategy for how to win in conservative districts. For all their pride in going against Pelosi on some issues, they also voted for her for Speaker. We saw in 2006 and 2008 that running against the GOP leadership didn't help Republican incumbents in purple or more liberal districts. These self-described Blue Dog Democrats may find that their constituents will decide that, when it comes to going against Pelosi and Obama's agenda, they might prefer someone who will fully oppose it and vote against Democratic control of the House. Why take the faux Republican when they can vote for the real thing?