Discouragement and apathy are natural and normal reactions to unemployment or loss on one’s home. Democrats must find ways to encourage people towards hope and motivate them to act. If the Democratic party can turn out people to merely vote, their election worries could be over, not only in Ohio but all over the country.
A visit to Ohio shows how hard it will be for the Democrats to motivate voters.
By John Dickerson
Posted Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2010, at 11:29 PM ET
out and survival may come down to Steve Nicholson vs. Rachel Harris. Neither is likely to vote Republican. But it’s unlikely that both will vote Democratic. As Nov. 2 approaches, Democrats face a high
For the Democratic Party, the difference this year between a rout and survival may come down to Steve Nicholson vs. Rachel Harris. Neither is likely to vote Republican. But it’s unlikely that both will vote Democratic. As Nov. 2 approaches, Democrats face a highly motivated opposition. The search for ways to excite people—not just their core voters but anyone who might be receptive to their message—grows more desperate by the day. “Folks, wake up!” President Obama told a group of Democrats Monday night. “This is not some academic exercise.”
Democratic hopes rest in part on Organizing for America, the Obama campaign organization that mobilized such an army for his victory in 2008. In Ohio OFA, has joined with the Democratic Party in perhaps the largest ground effort in the country. They are aided by labor unions. The AFL-CIO has been targeting workplaces and walking the streets talking to its members.
Some of the challenges come simply from trying to motivate voters in a midterm rather than presidential year. There’s no presidential horserace to follow. People are unfamiliar with the candidates. (Democrats can take heart that several people said they’d vote for the party even though they were unfamiliar with the candidates.) Conservatives are motivated by the desire for change. Democrats can’t use that argument this time. Instead they have to make arguments for patience and herald incremental change, none of which is very stirring.
“It’s grim,” says one Democratic strategist involved in helping a variety of House and Senate candidates. When I asked another Democratic strategist for his assessment of Ohio, he referred to Bill Clinton’s ability to come back in 1996 after the ’94 losses. Handicappers are making ominous predictions, too. Congressional Quarterly just moved two Ohio congressional races from “toss-up” to “lean Republican.” The difficulty on the ground in Ohio has led to speculation about whether the national Democratic committees are going to write off the state. Why throw good money after candidates that are sure to lose?
If there is to be a Democratic comeback in Ohio, it will rely on a two-pronged attack that relies on tying Republican candidates to Wall Street and their support for free trade. In the African-American community, the comeback argument is different: It’s all about Obama. Posters at OFA headquarters that go up in African-American communities read “Our Time is Now” and show Obama getting his hair cut at the barber shop. Says one organizer explaining the pitch, “The Republicans want to take down Obama in 2010, and you need to have his back.”