To be sure, things could change in the four months between now and November 2. The GOP's failure to get Republicans to vote in the May 18 special election in Pennsylvania's 12th District underscores that the party can't just sit back and await spontaneous combustion in terms of turnout. Still, the potential is here for a result that is proportional to some of the bigger postwar midterm wave elections. These kinds of waves are often ragged; almost always some candidates who looked dead somehow survive and others who were deemed safe get sucked down in the undertow. That's the nature of these beasts. But the recent numbers confirm that trends first spotted late last summer have fully developed into at least a Category 3 or 4 hurricane.Digby has a theory on why that is.
You can't help but wonder if the Democrats have decided that having the votes of "liberals, African-Americans, self-described Democrats, moderates and those living in either the Northeast or West" just aren't worth having so they are going to fight the Republicans for every last one of those John McCain voters. How else to explain the ongoing derision of their rank and file? ("They look like absolute idiots" is the quote that comes to mind.)So does Greg Sargent.
I tend to fall into the camp that holds that the Dem base's lack of enthusiasm is out of sync with the size and scope of the accomplishments racked up thus far by Obama and Dems. The excitement around Obama's victory was so intense, and the sense of a "big change moment" was so palpable, that people were bound to feel let down despite Obama's clearly historic achievements.Me, well, let's be honest. There's a pretty large contingent out there that enjoys kvetching about how doomed we are, and it happens at the drop of a hat (or an Obama poll number.) I'm here to remind you that instant gratification in politics just doesn't happen, folks. It's not a short-term tactics "win the 24-hour news cycle" game, but a long term "build the foundation, shore it up, and then build upon that" kind of deal.
But reasonable or not, something is apparently turning off these voters in a big way.
Look at the past. The New Deal. Civil Rights. Women's Suffrage. This stuff didn't get passed in 18 months and the world was magically better, it got improved in stages, fits and starts, suffered setbacks and challenges, and those were overcome through perseverance and effort. Obama's smart enough to get that necessity dictates he play the short game as well as the long one, but the problem is he's playing them against each other. Long term he wants to build the Democratic base. Short term he wants to get Republican votes.
What Obama doesn't get is that there's zero way he can get Republican votes in the short term (at least not until he shows Republican voters that his long term plan is working for all Americans). The economy is making that really, really hard. The austerity hysteria as a result of that is making it near impossible. Obama's going to have to make a choice here.
The Dems should be running on "Here's what we've done and why you should vote for us!" and not "So what are you going to do, vote Republican? I didn't think so."