For the hearts and minds of the college-age activists who sealed his victory in 2008:
MADISON, WIS. – President Obama will swoop into the heartland this week in a high-stakes bid to boost enthusiasm for Democrats by reigniting the coalition of young and minority voters who were critical to his success two years ago.
With polls showing independent voters swinging toward Republicans in Wisconsin and the nation’s other battlegrounds, Democrats are turning elsewhere to make up ground. So on Tuesday in Madison, Obama will stage the first in a series of rallies on college campuses designed to persuade what some call his “surge” voters – the roughly 15 million Americans who voted for the first time in 2008 – to return to the polls this fall.
Alas, with no Obama on the ballot and a host of unpopular Democratic incumbents, “his grass-roots network is a shadow of its former self,” meaning many of Obama’s young supporters could stay home in November.
“A lot of these voters feel very strongly about the president, but still a lot of them aren’t showing enough predilection to vote,” said David Plouffe, Obama’s 2008 campaign manager and an architect of the Democrats’ midterm strategy.
That’s what Obama aims to turn around in his campus swing:
When Obama steps onto a grass quad at the University of Wisconsin on Tuesday, he will deliver a newly tailored, more personalized campaign appeal aimed at ginning up enthusiasm, according to White House and senior Democratic officials. Plouffe said Obama will remind students of the work they put into his 2008 campaign and warn them that if they don’t reengage now, “all that could be jeopardized.”