Commentary Magazine


Energizing the Base — the Other Guys’

Obama’s poll numbers are down. The generic poll advantage for Democrats has disappeared. And now we see further evidence of the impact of Obama on the political landscape: he has energized Republicans.

Public Opinion Strategies (h/t Political Wire) tells us:

In 2005, the last year following a presidential election, Republicans, Independents, and Democrats all reported roughly the same level of interest in the news. But this year, four-in-ten Republicans say they are following national political news “very closely” – up 15 points from 2005, and fully 11 points higher than their Democratic counterparts today. . . . The combination of this Republican intensity and Independents beginning to desert President Obama is starting to translate to the ballot measure for 2010.

Since 2006, Republicans labored under the political the shadow of an unpopular war and a series of bad-news stories from the Bush White House. No wonder Obama still seems to want to run against Bush. But he’s a fading memory for most voters. Obama’s liberal agenda, his increasingly discombobulated foreign policy, and the ultra-liberal Democratic Congress are an increasingly juicy target for Republicans. And now the scandals — from ACORN to Charlie Rangel to Van Jones — are the Democrats’.

To some extent this is the natural ebb and flow of politics, which renders all the chatter of “permanent” majorities and all the flailing to reinvent the minority party rather absurd. But it is also a function of the choices made by the Obama administration to govern from the Left and to try to jam through its extreme agenda as quickly as possible. The Obama administration has made itself a target for its opponents and a burden for its fellow Democrats.