The Gallup Poll generic congressional ballot of registered voters shows that those supporting Republicans and Democrats are in a statistical tie, with Republicans at 46% and Democrats at 45%. The real story, though, is the huge advantage that Republicans have in enthusiasm about voting. Gallup shows 57% of those supporting Republicans as very enthusiastic and only 37% of those supporting Democrats as very enthusiastic. Several weeks before, the Marist Poll published a revealing profile of New York voters. The partisan breakdown of those "very enthusiastic" about voting this November showed these percentages: Republicans (34%), Democrats (25%), and Non-Enrolled (20%) -- a modest edge for Republicans. The enthusiasm of New York voters widened significantly when the ideology of the voter was considered: 38% of conservatives were very enthusiastic about voting; 22% of moderates felt the same; and only 18% of liberals were very enthusiastic about voting. The left in America is demoralized. This slide will continue, for several reasons:
The War on Something-or-Other. Obama must keep troops in Iraq and in Afghanistan. He must respond to Iran's drive to become a nuclear power. Many of his supporters disapproved of the Bush Doctrine, but they will want an Obama Doctrine that keeps America and Israel safe. Obama has no such plan. He will be forced to adopt a watered-down, disguised Bush Doctrine. This is what Democrats over the last fifty years have done. Recall the muddled mess of LBJ and Vietnam, Jimmy Carter and Iran, and Bill Clinton in Somalia. Articulating the case for America comes easy to Reagan conservatives but hard to McGovern leftists. After years of bashing Bush, Obama must follow his lead, and that will leave his cadres bitter.
Been there; done that. When Barack Obama became president, millions of Americans who did not support his radical leftism smiled that white America had elected a black president. However, once Obama was elected, the mystique vanished. We have seen this before. Carter in 1976 was the first candidate from the Deep South since the Civil War. He was an evangelical Christian who spoke openly about his faith. In 1976, Carter carried every state of the Confederacy except for Virginia and Texas, both of which he almost carried. Many Southerners and evangelicals saw Carter's election as curing an old bigotry against them. Carter won because of those voters.
But what happened in 1980? Carter lost every state in the South except for his home state of Georgia. Now, having a Southerner on the presidential ticket means as little as having a Catholic or a Jew or a woman on the Supreme Court. Since Carter left office, six Southerners have been on the presidential ticket: Bush, Bentsen, Clinton, Gore, Bush, and Edwards. Conservative Southerners have carried the South, and leftist Southerners have lost the South. "Been there; done that" seems to be the attitude of Southerners since Carter. Voters who supported Obama as the first black president have made their point. Next time they will stay at home or vote for the policies and not the man.
Jilted friends. Obama is drawing heat from big labor, who feel that he has done little for them. Gays heckle Obama, feeling also that they have been jilted. "Civil libertarians" bemoan his continued use of some of the "Bush" tactics against terrorists. Environmental radicals yelp when he even ponders more drilling for oil. Feminists (pro-abortionists) are upset about the Stupak compromise on abortion, meaningless though it is. These jilted friends are not going to vote Republican, but they are less likely to contribute or to campaign for someone they see as a feckless friend.
How radicals triangulate. Republicans will make big enough gains in November to deny Obama the luxury of ignoring them. Clinton after the Republican landslide of 1994 was able to "triangulate" -- to appear to place himself between conservatives and the left. But Clinton professed to be a moderate. As the multi-term governor of a conservative state, Clinton learned his magic trick well. Obama, however, is to the left of much of the Democrat Party. When Republicans push popular conservative measures like repealing health care, cutting taxes, and aggressively drilling for oil in America, the triangulation will leave Democrats like Mary Landrieu and Ben Nelson in the middle. Obama, Pelosi, and Reid (or the new Democrat floor leader) will be the far corner of the triangle. Obama can either appear hapless or "sell out." Either course will demoralize his supporters.
Messiah fatigue. The president is almost as ubiquitous as Big Brother in 1984, but he does not reign over Orwell's Oceania. Every redundant or pointless appearance Obama makes diminishes him. Americans know all about advertising and self-promotion. We are savvy about oversold products, particularly political products like Obama, who works in an utterly scripted and unchallenged public environment. This fatigue affects Democrats, too. All Americans bore easily when the same face is saying the same things. It does not help that these hoary nostrums of Obama are more than a century old.
The demoralization of the left will affect 2010, but the biggest bite could be in 2012, when Obama faces voters again. If an Obama Malaise keeps growing after 2010, that could embolden leftist Democrats to challenge him for the nomination -- that happened to Johnson in 1968 and to Carter in 1980. We have a chance, and we must not throw it away. Now is the time to be energized, be bold, and be sure. If the left is tired, scared, and unsure, then that is our chance to reclaim America. Carter led us to Reagan. Obama may lead us to a similar victory.