This report from Politico neatly sums up the looming collision between reality and White House spin:
Mounting evidence that independent voters have soured on the Democrats is prompting a debate among party officials about what rhetorical and substantive changes are needed to halt the damage. Following serious setbacks with independents in off-year elections earlier this month, White House officials attributed the defeats to local factors and said President Barack Obama sees no need to reposition his own image or the Democratic message.
Democrats who must face the voters next year can read the polls. They see not simply a falling away of support by independents but also the underlying unease with the liberal big-government, big-spending agenda. Lawmakers may not be geniuses but they are smart enough to see that their own political future is at risk and that the likely culprit is Obamaism. The fear extends to the state level as they recognize the impact of Obama’s agenda on the elections in Virginia and New Jersey. One Democratic pollster observes: “The perception of what’s happening in Congress is polluting what’s happening down below.” And the problem isn’t regional:
Democrats are anxious about the prospects of five-term Sen. Chris Dodd in Connecticut, who trails one of his GOP opponents by 28 percentage points among independents in a prospective head-to-head matchup, and Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter and Iowa Gov. Chet Culver, two Democratic incumbents with shrinking approval ratings among independent voters. A Des Moines Register poll released this weekend showed the first-term Culver trailing the GOP front-runner among independents by nearly 30 percentage points.
Hmm. Democrats had assured themselves that the Republicans were becoming a regional, all-Southern party. But that was before Obama and the Democrats in Congress spent nearly a year in control.
The Obami and the Democratic leadership in Congress, on the other hand, are putting their fingers in their ears to block out the sound of stampeding independents and to ignore the obvious explanation — the public does not share their zeal to remake America and reorder the relationship between government and citizenry, and between the public and private sectors. They have a leftward lurch to complete, and they aren’t about to let the voters get in the way. Their answer: more of the same! A government health-care takeover tops the list, which of course is increasingly unpopular among these same independents.
Democrats in Congress will have to decide whether they believe the polls and election results or the self-serving spin from the White House and their leadership, which is desperate to ram home ObamaCare before the 2010 election exacts its toll. Apparently, the Obama team is not going to adjust course to save their congressional allies, so the latter will have to fend for themselves. We’ll see if Step One in the “save their skins” program is to refashion ObamaCare from a monstrous government power grab to something voters might actually like.