Why Don't Democrats Take Better Advantage of Extremist Republicans' Unpopular Policies?
A couple of weeks ago, Peter Beinart wrote at the Daily Beast that union-stripping in the Midwest was going to be the key to an Obama victory in 2012:
In 2012, Obama will ask Americans if they want a president who abets the extremism of Scott Walker. By so successfully shifting the ideological debate to the right, Republicans have reframed Obama as a man of the center. And by terrifying liberals, they are helping ensure that Obama gets the large Democratic base turnout he needs.
Of course, in order for this to happen, Obama may actually have to ask Americans how they feel about Walkerism. He can't just stay on the sidelines and hope for the proverbial sleeping giant to awaken and sweep him to victory. I think a lot of people think that might be happening already -- they think Wisconsin and the other battles with extremist governors are a rising tide that lifts all Democrats -- but to judge from the new Quinnipiac poll, that's not the case: not only does Obama get his lowest approval rating ever from Quinnipiac (42% approval/48% disapproval), and not only does he lose the deserves-to-be-reelected battle 50%/41%, but people in union households are decidedly lukewarm toward him -- they'd vote for him over a generic Republican by a mere 45%-29%.
That means he does get about 60% of the voters who've made up their minds -- but that's no better than he did in '08 against McCain, according to CNN's exit poll. Shouldn't he be doing better? Shouldn't Republicans be doing worse? Why, at this point, are a majority of union-household members either planning to vote Republican for president in 2012 or not ruling it out?
Obviously, Obama actually has to affiliate himself with the workers involved -- he can't get this benefit just by osmosis. Also, Democrats have to stop assuming that voters are, all on their own, already viscerally associating these unpopular deeds by GOP governors with the GOP -- they actually have to say, "This is the face of the Republican Party."
I'm not sure Obama will ever do that, or other Democrats either.