- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Desperate to curtail expected midterm losses this fall, President Obama pleaded with supporters of his 2008 campaign Monday to help elect Democrats as his aides intensified their focus on re-energizing his broad coalition of backers.

“I need your help once more,” the president said in an online video sent to millions of his supporters. “If you help us make sure that first-time voters in 2008 make their voices heard again in November, then together we will deliver on the promise of change and hope and prosperity for generations to come.”

The video announcement of what Democrats are calling “Vote 2010” is part of a multi-pronged effort by the Democratic National Committee to re-engage the legions of backers — including first-time voters, young people, blacks, Hispanics and independents — who propelled Mr. Obama to victory in his groundbreaking campaign.

That won’t be easy: Polls show GOP base voters have more enthusiasm entering the campaign season.

Democrats face a tough political environment, partly because of the economic recession and continued joblessness. Republicans need to win 40 seats in the House and 10 in the Senate to reclaim control of Capitol Hill, and many forecasters say they have an outside chance of doing so.

Since Mr. Obama won the White House, voters of all political stripes have soured on the president and his party; his job performance rate hovers near 50 percent, and support for Democrats in Congress is even lower. The growth of government and spending increases have turned off some independent voters. Parts of the Democratic base are frustrated with the pace of reforms under Mr. Obama, and some Republicans who crossed over to vote for Mr. Obama now are disillusioned.

Even some of the most senior Democratic officials don’t expect that the coalition of voters who backed Mr. Obama will turn out in droves when he’s not on the ballot. They didn’t in three recent statewide races — in Virginia, New Jersey and Massachusetts — even though Mr. Obama made campaign stops for the Democratic candidates. Republicans won all three races.

Of particular concern for Democrats are people who were first-time voters in 2008. They’re among the least likely to vote again.

Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine and Obama political advisers David Plouffe and Mitch Stewart were rolling out details of the 2010 campaign strategy. The party plans to spend at least $20 million — and probably far more — to protect its comfortable majorities in Congress.

In his message, Mr. Obama sketched out the party’s core argument for keeping power. He cast the elections as a choice between continuing the changes made under Democrats who fight for everyday Americans and going backward under the rule of Republicans who do the bidding of big business.

“Today, the health insurance companies, the Wall Street banks and the special interests who have ruled Washington for too long are already focused on November’s congressional elections,” Mr. Obama said. “They see these elections as a chance to put their allies back in power and undo all that we have accomplished.”

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