What are the real prospects for congressional Democrats moving toward the November elections in 2010? If the analysis in the National Journal can be believed, Senate and House Democrats running for reelection are pretty much doomed:
“For months now, the alarm bells have been sounding for President Obama. First there was the drop in support among independents. Then his precipitous drop in support among white voters. Now comes the predictable news that Wall Street donors, sick of being used as political punching bags, are no longer lavishing campaign funds on Democrats.
“But while these developments should be worrisome to the White House, they should be downright terrifying to congressional Democrats. Obama has time to right himself. For congressional Democrats, time has almost run out.”
Polling and focus group data suggest that President Obama and his Democratic allies in Congress are losing white and independent voters on the issues of health care reform and the BP oil leak disaster. Despite some hopes expressed by supporters of Obamacare, opposition to it has only increased and hardened in the months since its passage. The spectacle of government incompetence in the Gulf of Mexico has crystallized the meme of a federal government that is clueless, out-of-touch, and self-absorbed.
What is more, it may be too late for Democrats to do anything about the doom that approaches them. Public attitudes toward congressional Democrats seem to have settled in, and it would take a very unlikely game-changing development to change them.
Indeed, Democrats seem to be headed the other direction than trying to appease outraged voters. Perhaps having concluded that they are doomed anyway, the Democratic majority in Congress is attempting to pass legislation like cap-and-trade and finance reform before they are thrown out of power and it is too late. The theory is that Republicans will not be able to reverse too much of the agenda, once passed, and that, in time, the public will come to accept the fait accompli.
The problem with that theory is that sort of behavior may poison the idea of ever letting Democrats back in power for a very long time. Gridlock between a Republican Congress and an Obama White House may result in 2011-2013, but if a Republican President is elected in 2012, things will start to break loose.
Of course, all that depends on whether the Republicans have learned their lesson of the years 2002-2006, when they last ran both sides of Pennsylvania Avenue, and were unable to pass much of a reform agenda, and, at the same time, seemed to have been seduced by the wicked ways of Washington. Much will depend on who gets elected President in 2012, and how much he (or she) can bend Congress to an authentic reform agenda.
For Congressional Dems, Time Is Almost Up, Amy Walter, Mational Journal, July 7th, 2010