How the Democrats can avoid a November bloodbath

By Douglas E. Schoen and Patrick H. Caddell
Washington Post
4/16/2010

Media reports suggest that President Obama is turning his attention toward the midterm congressional elections. There are a few things it is imperative he understand if he is to, at the least, minimize Democratic losses in November.

We are Democratic pollsters who argued against the health-care legislation [“Democrats’ blind ambition,” Washington Forum, March 12] that the Obama administration chose to pursue. Instead, we advocated incremental health-care reform. With the passage of health reform, some harsh political realities have emerged.

Recent polling shows that despite lofty predictions that a broad-based Democratic constituency would be activated by the bill’s passage, the bill has been an incontrovertible disaster. The most recent Rasmussen Reports poll, released on April 12, shows that 58 percent of the electorate supports a repeal of the health-care reform bill — up from 54 percent two weeks earlier. Fueling this backlash is concern that health-care reform will drive up health costs and expand the role of government, and the belief that passage was achieved by fundamentally anti-democratic means. Already we are seeing the implications play out with the retirement of Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) — who had effectively become the face of the last-minute, closed-door negotiations that resulted in passage.

Put simply, there has been no bounce, for the president or his party, from passing health care.

In fact, Monday’s Gallup report showed the president’s weekly job approval rating at a low of 47 percent. And as the Democratic Party’s favorability has dropped to 41 percent — the lowest in Gallup’s 18-year history of measuring it — this week’s Rasmussen Reports survey shows the Republican Party with a nine-point lead in the generic congressional vote. Moreover, independents, who are more energized than Democrats, are leaning Republican by a 2-to-1 margin.

The article continues at the Washington Post.

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