A revealing comment in the New York Times:
Assuming that many independents are out of reach, White House strategists are counting on Mr. Obama to energize, cajole, wheedle and even shame the left into matching the Tea Party momentum that has propelled Republicans this year.
In most parts of the country, and 90-some percent of the races that matter most in this cycle:
Independents + Republicans > Democrats
As of 2008 (probably the apex of Democratic voter registration), Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia have more registered Democrats than Republicans and independents combined. Of course, a lot of Kentucky, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia Democrats are culturally quite conservative, and not enamored with the Obama administration right now.
Thus, this White House strategy, even if executed perfectly, would be of little use to Democrats where the party is most vulnerable. If 2010 turns out to be a bloodbath for Democrats, energized Republicans were one pincer and furious independents were the other. It’s fascinating that the Obama approach was to write off winning over independents so early.
UPDATE: A couple of readers argue, with good justification, that the Obama White House gave up on independents when they pushed forward with Obamacare after Scott Brown’s victory. But my point is not that these guys aren’t trying to win over independents through their governing decisions; it’s that they’re not even trying to argue to independents that their policies have been good for the country.