Open Thread: Will Grassroots Work Again for Obama?

With a poll earlier this month showing that an unnamed Republican candidate could beat President Barack Obama by a narrow margin if the election were held today, Obama's advisers are scrambling to find ways to win his reelection in 2012 amid a $14 trillion debt and three wars.

Obama's dismal poll numbers are leaving his nostalgic advisers grappling to assemble an astroturf campaign reminiscent of his successful 2008 grassroots campaign. As the National Journal's Josh Kraushaar explains, Obama's administration has made a series of critical moves over the past month that reflect their growing concern for Obama's chances in 2012.

Check out Kraushaar's thoughts on Obama's struggling 2012 campaign after the break, and let us know what you think in the comments.

According to Kraushaar, a number of signals from the White House this month show a campaign toiling to position itself as coming out ahead on a number of failures, namely the economy and jobs, and attempting to engage voting blocs not typically seen as hotbeds of Obama support.

1. Searching for an economic message. [...] This is a time when the president needs to find his inner Bill Clinton, and feel Americans’ pain. If he wants to be one of the few presidents to win reelection in a stagnant economy, he’ll have to devote less time to defending past policies, like the auto bailout, and more to offering specific solutions to help people get back to work. Think a 21st century version of FDR’s fireside chats.

But there are few signs that the president’s economic messaging has changed. Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz recently said Democrats own the economy, but they don’t seem to be adapting their message to the bad economy likely to face them in November 2012.

2. Doubling down on manufacturing. [...] While there has been a small uptick in manufacturing jobs, it’s hardly enough to be felt by the blue-collar electorate, who have been bearing the brunt of the recession and never viewed Obama too favorably in the first place. [...]

The president’s emphasis on green jobs doesn’t help. It’s tough for many steelworkers to see themselves producing solar panels. Clean-energy jobs may be the future, but they’re not seen by displaced workers as a panacea.

3. Fresh fundraising concerns. With a strong connection to the grassroots and expertise with social networking, President Obama’s reelection team mastered the art of hitting up small donors in the 2008 campaign.

But there are telltale signs that the grassroots army that propelled him is in a much less giving mood. It’s not a huge surprise; the bad economy has hit Obama’s small donors too. When you’re having trouble paying the bills, you’re not exactly pining to pitch in hard-earned money to help a powerful president. [...]

4. Raising the stakes in the upper South. Obama’s strategists are raising the stakes in the two battleground upper South states, North Carolina and Virginia.

They’ve never been critical cogs in a presidential strategy. If Team Obama sees them as such in 2012, it suggests the campaign is struggling in states that were comfortably on its side in 2008, particularly those in the Rust Belt.

Do you think Obama will be able to reinvigorate his grassroots support of 2008 to bring out the same level of support? Or do you think his young fan base has become jaded and changed their views during his past three years as president?

NB Staff
NB Staff