Obama here for Coakley, trailing a diminished aura

Democrats struggle to rally base for upcoming votes

Susan Milligan
The Boston Globe

WASHINGTON – The feverish excitement that propelled Barack Obama and scores of other Democrats to victory in 2008 has all but evaporated, worrying party leaders who are struggling to invigorate the base before Tuesday’s Massachusetts Senate race and November’s critical midterm contests, pollsters and party activists said.

President Obama’s scheduled visit to the Bay State on behalf of Democratic candidate Martha Coakley today, a rescue bid planned suddenly by the White House last week after Republican Scott Brown pulled even or ahead in some polls, will be a key test of the president’s ability to reenergize his dispirited party.

But the challenges to getting an enthusiastic turnout for Democrats in 2010 are huge. Young voters and left-wing Democrats have become frustrated with progress on the Obama agenda in Washington. Polls show that Obama’s popularity among younger Americans is down.

“People are rightfully disenchanted’’ with the way things are going in Washington, said Michael Vastola, 21, a Tufts University senior and active College Democrat. “I’m personally concerned, because I hope they keep their interest in this upcoming election.’’

While many young voters imagined that an Obama presidency would mean a speedy closure of Guantanamo Bay prison, a wind-down of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and a health care plan that would, at least, provide a government insurance plan to compete with the private sector, they instead are frustrated at the slow pace of change, Vastola and others said.

“There was this expectation that this was going to be like a Hollywood movie. He was a candidate almost fictionalized from day one,’’ Boston-based Democratic political consultant Michael Goldman said of Obama. “Does it make me frustrated? It does. But it’s reality, it’s the world as it really is, not the fantasy.’’



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