The Old Media establishment seems to be getting worried about Barack Obama’s reelection campaign. They see Romney surging and they are beginning to think that there may be no stopping him. So, lots of advice is being offered to the Democrats to help them come back from this tailspin. National Journal is only the latest to do so.
For NJ, John Kraushaar is warning the Democrats not to think like its still 2008 as the party plots its comeback from the 2010 GOP landslide and as Obama makes a bid for a second term.
Kraushaar points out that Democrats are contending that 66 Republicans standing for reelection are in districts that Obama won in 2008. This, they think, means an easy bunch of pickups for them in November. But Kraushaar notes that the Dems are not taking into account “how far the president’s standing has fallen from four years ago.”
With Mitt Romney running ahead of Obama nationally, 2004 is shaping up to be a much more instructive baseline for the upcoming elections than Obama’s historic win in 2008. Indeed, only eight House Republicans hold districts that John Kerry won in 2004. That, more than anything, explains how the Democratic expectation of being within striking distance of the majority is falling far short of reality. Call it the 2008 illusion.
Kraushaar zeroes in on Obama’s home state of Illinois as an example of the Democrat’s flawed thinking. In the Land of Lincoln, the State’s Democrat Party had control of redistricting and attempted to Gerrymander the new districts to eliminate as many as four or five Republican congressmen. They succeeded in the 16th District where two Republicans ended up primarying each other — one had to lose, of course. The other four districts were rearranged to lean more Democrat than previously, so the Ill. Dem. Party expected to easily wipe out several if not all four of those Republicans (8th District, Joe Walsh; 10th District, Bob Dold; 11th District Judy Biggert and 17th District Bobby Schilling).
But, Kraushaar reports that the Democrats are finding themselves surprised that in blue, blue Illinois all four of these Republican incumbents are surging in the polls, each holding a slight lead at this time. Sure the elections can still go either way, but no Democrat expected even a close election in these districts.
But it’s not just Illinois.
This week, Democrats canceled costly ad reservations in the Philadelphia media market originally designed to use against suburban Philly GOP Reps. Mike Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., and Jon Runyan, R-N.J., districts that usually go Democratic in a good year for the party. The party and outside groups also withdrew attack ads against Rep. Scott Rigell, representing the one (Tidewater) bellwether district in the battleground state of Virginia. In Florida, even Democratic operatives are now sounding pessimistic about their prospects of defeating outspoken conservative Rep. Allen West, despite early predictions that he’d be one of the most vulnerable Republicans from the freshman class. These are all districts Obama carried in 2008.
Kraushaar thinks that the 2012 elections may well help solidify Republican gains and points out that the bulk of the 84 freshmen elected in 2010 are in little danger of being voted out of office any time soon.
He wraps up his piece saying that unless Democrats come to realize it isn’t 2008 anymore and adjust their strategy accordingly, they won’t be making up the ground they lost in 2010.
Yes, the Old Media establishment is very, very worried.