We’re in the homestretch of the campaign, and voters can look forward soon to blessed relief from the yard signs, telephone calls and television commercials. In two weeks, it will all be over. But first the closing arguments, with advocates presenting their most persuasive palaver. The Republicans summarize theirs in one word: “Obama.”
That’s the short and not-so-sweet message the Freedom Partners Super PAC is making in a series of television commercials it put on the air Wednesday in the six states where voters will decide who will control the U.S. Senate in January. The $6.5 million commercial blitz takes a unique jab at each Democrat and closes with the reminder that a vote for Mark Begich in Alaska, Mark L. Pryor in Arkansas, Mark Udall in Colorado, Kay R. Hagan in North Carolina, Bruce Braley in Iowa and Jeanne Shaheen in New Hampshire is a vote for President Obama and more of the misery.
No Democrat wants to be tied to a president who promises prosperity and delivers malaise. “The reminders are everywhere,” says Freedom Partners spokesman James Davis. “The struggle to find a good-paying job, health care uncertainty because of broken promises, tax dollars taken from their paychecks only to be wasted, special treatment for politicians and a failure of government to care for veterans. Election Day is Americans’ opportunity to stand up and say ‘enough.’”
This is not merely a message to get Republicans to the polls on Nov. 4, but the reminder to keep Democrats demoralized. There’s no denying Republicans have momentum. Mr. Obama appeared Sunday in a high school gymnasium in Upper Marlboro, Md., to stump for gubernatorial candidate Anthony G. Brown. This should have been the coziest of occasions before a friendly crowd, but everyone had plainly lost interest when Mr. Obama began speaking. Dozens started for the exits as if it were the bottom of the ninth with two outs and the home team down by five runs. Nearly everyone was exhausted by Obama fatigue.
He was once the unstoppable rock-star celebrity who filled Denver’s Mile High Stadium in 2008, wowed a crowd of 200,000 Germans at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, and collected a Nobel Peace Prize for doing nothing, awarded moments after he took the oath of office. The star faded in the second campaign. The Democratic National Convention scrambled to find enough buses to take out-of-state liberals to fill the 74,000 seats for the final event with Mr. Obama in Charlotte, N.C. The party lucked out in the rain, enabled to blame “bad weather” for moving into a much smaller indoor arena.
Mr. Obama made himself and his agenda for “transforming” America the abiding issue of the midterm campaign of 2014. “I am not on the ballot this fall,” he said, “but make no mistake, these policies are on the ballot — every single one of them.” There’s no walking back from that, no matter how hard Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, works to avoid speaking the name “Obama,” as if it were a curse or a vulgarity.
Democratic tap dancing around the man in the White House has become the welcome comic relief of the campaign. Mrs. Shaheen drew guffaws at a campaign debate Tuesday in New Hampshire when she refused to tell the moderator whether she supports President Obama. She voted for his agenda 99 percent of the time. Alison Lundergan Grimes, challenging Mitch McConnell in Kentucky, appealed to “the sanctity of the ballot” to avoid saying whether she voted for Mr. Obama, though everyone knows she did.
The closing argument for Democrats is a dissembling jitterbug around their vote for Obamacare, a Texas two-step from the tax increases and the “stimulus” that put the nation $7.3 trillion in extra debt without producing the promised new jobs. Voters are weary of the song-and-dance. Barack Obama has become the October surprise.