Good tidings from Virginia that may extend all the way across the nation. The coalition of voters that propelled Barack Obama to the White House is fragmenting and falling away, losing interest in Obama and unlikely to support other Democrats in future elections- at least if the Virginia gubernatorial election holds clues to the rest of the electorate. The anti-GOP wave has crested.
From the Washington Post regarding a poll of Virginians focus on potentially critical shifts among Obama's coalition:
First, just half of Virginians who say they voted for Obama last November say they are certain to vote in the gubernatorial election. That compares with two-thirds of those who say they backed Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).
Second, there is a lack of energy in the African American community.
Third, the poll shows an even sharper falloff in interest among younger voters. Last November, they accounted for 21 percent of the Virginia electorate. In the new poll, they account for 8 percent of likely voters, suggesting that their interest in politics might not extend much beyond the president.
Fourth, the intensity gap between Democrats and Republicans has done a complete reversal. On the eve of last November's presidential election, 67 percent of Obama supporters nationally said they enthusiastically backed his candidacy, compared with 41 percent of McCain's supporters. The Post poll found that just 20 percent of Deeds's voters say they are enthusiastic about supporting him, compared with 35 percent of McDonnell's supporters.
The coattails are gone, but perhaps there are other factors in play. A shift among independents nationally has been noted; generic polls show Republicans gaining; approval of the President has been on a downward trajectory for months; esteem for Congress -- Democratically dominated -- is at a low; young people may be busy looking for a job rather than focusing on supporting a party that promises to hit them with health care charges.
Now the GOP will have to finally figure out a way forward to capitalize on this dissatisfaction. A coherent message with less fratricidal friction would help. So would a commanding figure with great charisma and a reputation for competency (since Obama is increasingly being perceived as incompetent). There is not magic formula but the ingredients are there for a comeback.