In middle-of-the-road swing districts, Democrat incumbents are running against Obama and the Democratic legislative record. Rather than campaigning on the Congress’ accomplishments, candidates are pretending they never happened.
Rep. Bobby Bright, an Alabama Democrat, has already said that he won’t support Nancy Pelosi for House Speaker (if the Dems hold onto the Senate).
Rep. Jason Altmire of Pennsylvania is touting his opposition to Health Care reform. Glenn Nye of Virginia is also campaigning on his opposition to the HC bill. ABC’s Jake Tapper describes the dire Democrats as “fighting for their political lives in a harsh environment and have found it necessary to distance themselves from their leaders and Democratic policies.”
It’s never a good sign for the majority party when the very candidates that gave you the majority (moderate and conservative Democrats) have to run as if they are Republicans.
In West Virgina, the popular Governor, Democrat Joe Manchin, is in the fight of this life for the Senate seat that opened upon Robert Byrd’ death. He is even endorsed by typically Republican groups (the NRA and U.S. Chamber of Commerce), yet Gov. Manchin and his opponent, businessman John Raese, are locked in a dead heat. The Real Clear Politics average has Manchin up by just 1.5 points, which is practically a tie. Polls have shown one candidate up by that much, only to lose on election day. Until you have a near-double digit lead, you aren’t safe.
Patricia Murphy, the Capital Hill Bureau Chief for Politics Daily, notes:
Manchin, a pro-life, conservative Democrat, is paying for the sins of his party’s more liberal leadership in Washington, especially Obama, who lost West Virginia by 13 points in 2008 and now has a 69 percent disapproval rating in the Mountain State. The result is a locally popular governor– one of the most popular in the country– who is unwilling to embrace the Democratic leadership in Washington.
When Ms. Murphy asked Manchin if he would support Obama for a second term, he replied:
“Things have got to change. People will have time to evaluate and make a decision over the next two years and four years. I just think there’s a lot of correction, a lot of changes, a lot of things that need to be fixed before I would say anything about anybody running for office.”
Though West Virginia is a relatively conservative state, it is emblematic of the problems for Democrats this election cycle. They have to be self-hating Democrats.