The Corner

‘[Obama’s] Just Not As Advertised’

The Washington Post has a front-page, above-the-fold story that will cause indigestion among those in the Obama White House. The article, about the Virginia governor’s race, says this:

The president will make his first appearance in the campaign Thursday, when he headlines a fundraiser for R. Creigh Deeds (D) in McLean, in part to try to help the state senator from Bath County win over wavering Democrats such as [Obama voter Chris Ann] Cleland. But Obama’s entry into the race presents a challenge for Deeds: How does he continue the momentum created by Obama, the first Democratic presidential candidate in more than four decades to carry Virginia, without being saddled with the baggage the president now carries? His answer has largely been to distance himself from the president’s policies despite attempts by Republican Robert F. McDonnell to force him to take positions on issues such as unions, climate change and health care.

And the story quotes Ms. Cleland, who is described in the article as beginning to think that her vote for Obama was a mistake, as saying this:

“He’s just not as advertised,” she said. “Nothing’s changed for the common guy. I feel like I’ve been punked.” . . . She’s seen enough of Obama’s leadership to know that she is open to voting for a Republican this fall. “We really needed something different,” she said, “but instead we are doing the same things over and over and over.”

What we are seeing is that the drop in public support for Obama is beginning to become an issue in political races around the country. Virginia in particular is worth paying attention to. It was carried by Obama in 2008 and has a Democratic governor and two Democratic senators. It is exactly the kind of state that people (legitimately) pointed to in recent years as a sign that the GOP was in significant trouble.

The fact that Bob McDonnell is ahead by double digits in two recent polls and is making the gubernatorial election about Obama, while Deeds is attempting to distance himself from the president, is arresting. These are the kind of things you see when an imposing political wave is beginning to form. Whether that wave gains or recedes in strength over the coming months remains to be seen. But for now it’s clear that in the early months of his presidency, Obama is, in states like Virginia, becoming a drag on the Democratic party — and that is a fairly remarkable development. You don’t hear much talk about Obama being the new FDR, the equal of Lincoln, and “sort of God” these days, do you?

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