DEM DILEMMA – AT 8:36 A.M. ET: The poll numbers in our first post this morning showed what Obama faces. John King of CNN expands on that theme, noting the struggles the Democratic Party must endure in this election year, an election very different from the one four years ago, but also noting the advantages that Obama and his party retain:
But while the historic statistical models would suggest defeat looms in November, the president arrives in Charlotte with several key advantages in the race, and with an easier path to 270 Electoral College votes and victory than his Republican rival.
Among the advantages:
• Incumbency: Yes there are downsides to this, but the stage and powers of the presidency are on the whole an advantage, especially in a close, competitive race.
• More room for error: Mitt Romney needs to win Florida and Ohio, and at least two of these three -- Virginia, North Carolina and Wisconsin -- to have a realistic shot at 270. Obama, on the other hand, enters his convention with several paths to cobble 270 together.
• Demographics: As long as the GOP has a crisis with Latino voters, there is a built-in Democratic edge in several key states. New Mexico, not long ago a presidential swing state, is barely mentioned as a potential GOP target. And Nevada is a competitive tossup despite the highest unemployment rate among the states and a punishing housing crisis.
I'd say that King is accurate on those points.
Yet the challenges are obvious.
While his path to 270 has more room for error, it is very different from the lopsided Democratic advantage in 2008.
Then-Sen. Obama won three states that hadn't voted Democratic for president in more than a generation -- Indiana, North Carolina and Virginia. His campaign already concedes Indiana is an almost-certain red state this year, and North Carolina and Virginia are tossups. So are Wisconsin, Iowa, Nevada and Colorado -- all states where the president's margin was fairly comfortable four years ago.
...the jobless numbers and other economic data make it all but impossible for the president to make the case Americans are better off today than they were four years ago.
So his convention priority is to make the case that his approach is the better, fairer path to sustained recovery. The primary target: independents and conservative Democrats in battleground states.
That means a "scare tactics" campaign, and Dems are very good at that. But the Dems also face statistical decline, which King notes has been dramatic:
When Obama took office Democrats held:
• 56 Senate seats. It is 51 now (plus two independents who align mostly with the Democrats).
• 257 seats in the House of Representatives. It is 190 now (there are also three vacancies for seats last held by Democrats).
• 29 of the 50 governorships. It is 20 now.
• 4,073 state legislative seats. It is 3,319 now.
COMMENT: King, being a mainstream-media employee, does not tackle the issue of press bias, which I think could be decisive this year, having played a dramatic role in 2008. If the election is very close, press bias can provide enough support for Obama to win the election. Yet, the subject is avoided. Gee, I wonder why.
September 4, 2012