Democrats are in a box when it comes to President Obama

The Morning Line

Today in the Morning Line:

  • Obama calls red-state Democrats “strong allies and supporters”
  • But will Republicans using his lines against him in blue states work?
  • The political communication world is flat

Obama hands GOP another line: President Obama’s had some difficulty lately walking the line between firing up a complacent base and giving more fodder to Republicans in red states. Acknowledging a “tough map,” the president went on to say on Al Sharpton’s radio show that for “some of the candidates” in those states, “it is difficult for them to have me in the state because the Republicans will use that to try to fan Republican turnout.” And he added this made-for-GOP-TV line: “The bottom line is, though, these are all folks who vote with me; they have supported my agenda in Congress.” Then he made it sound like there are back-room strategic discussions with these red-state Democrats about how they should campaign. “So this isn’t about my feelings being hurt,” he said. “These are folks who are strong allies and supporters of me. I tell them — I said, ‘You do what you need to do to win. I will be responsible for making sure that our voters turn out.’”

‘On the ballot’ being used against Democrats in blue states: This came after President Obama said earlier this month that even though he wasn’t on the ballot, his policies were. “I am not on the ballot this fall. Michelle’s pretty happy about that. But make no mistake: these policies are on the ballot. Every single one of them.” That line has now made it into Republican attack ad after ad in red states like Kentucky, Georgia, and Kansas. But, as the Washington Post’s Sean Sullivan points out, it’s even playing in states Obama won like Florida, Minnesota and New Hampshire. Whether that strategy works to expand the playing field for Republicans might be dubious. But Republicans are banking on the fact that midterms are base-voter turnout elections. They have more voters inclined to vote and motivated against the president’s policies than Democrats have the opposite.

Politicians can’t speak to slices of the electorate in a vacuum anymore: We’ve pointed out over and over again that Democrats have a midterm demographics problem. Thirty percent fewer people turn out in midterms than presidential elections, and Democratic base voters tend to be the ones who make up a big chunk of those who stay home. Democrats need the black voters in the South who approve of the president’s policies and who came out in record numbers for President Obama in two presidential elections in places like North Carolina, Georgia, Arkansas and Louisiana. So the president, going on Al Sharpton and running radio ads on African American-focused radio, is trying to make the case for why they should get out and vote. But politicians can’t speak to any corner of the electorate anymore without everyone else finding out about it. It’s just not how it works anymore on either side.

Quote of the day: “Don’t touch my girlfriend, now” — man to President Obama at a polling place in Chicago, where Obama early voted. The president retorted back, while voting, to the man’s girlfriend, “There’s an example of a brother just embarrassing me, just for no reason, whatsoever.” That was before giving her a kiss, “Give me a kiss to give him something to talk about. Now, he’s really jealous.”

Daily Presidential Trivia: On this day in 1971, President Nixon nominated William Rehnquist and Lewis Powell to the US Supreme Court. Who succeeded Rehnquist and Powell, and who were they nominated by? Be the first to tweet us the correct answer using #PoliticsTrivia and you’ll get a Morning Line shout-out. Congratulations to RBDIII (‏@RBDIII) and roy wait ‏(@ind22rxw) for guessing Friday’s trivia: What job did Jefferson Davis hold before becoming the president of the Confederacy? The answer was: U.S. Senator from Mississippi.


  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., is campaigning against Scott Brown again, but this time it’s in New Hampshire, not Massachusetts.

  • Republicans, like Brown, are campaigning as anti-amnesty candidates, but this is a position that could end up hurting Republicans more in 2016.

  • Billionaire hedge fund founder and environmentalist Tom Steyer has surpassed Sheldon Adelson as the top super PAC donor.

  • The exodus of people and power from Iowa’s rural towns to its urban centers has left Republican precincts redder and Democratic areas bluer, while its suburbs are a mix. At the same time, the New York Times’ Michael Barbaro notes, rural values “are no longer reflexively Republican,” with farmers both frustrated with and reliant on the government.

  • Iowa Rep. Bruce Braley may be “one of the biggest Democratic disappointments of the cycle,” but the final weeks of this campaign aren’t about Joni Ernst vs. Braley, writes National Journal’s Shane Goldmacher; it’s Ernst vs. the Democratic ground game.

  • Republicans, though, are stepping up their ground game around the country, adapting the tech-driven, get-out-the-vote efforts that Democrats have used in previous cycles.

  • Florida gubernatorial candidates face off in their last debate tonight. CNN has said that Democrat Charlie Crist will not be able to use his fan.

  • Conservative super PACs have caught up to their liberal counterparts, matching their fundraising in the final weeks before Election Day, and are potentially poised to surpass them.

  • Among the campaign committees however, Democrats continue to out-raise Republicans. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee raised $5 million more than the National Republican Congressional Committee in September.

  • With the president’s popularity at an all-time low, he is not attending many campaign rallies, except for in places like Illinois and Maryland where Democrats enjoy a strong base.

  • West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, though, is out campaigning for moderate Democrats, making three stops with North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan Monday. “There’s nothing in these states that [President Obama] can do” to help at-risk Dems, Manchin said.

  • Democrats continue to distance themselves from President Obama this midterm season. In the latest ad for Alaska Sen. Mark Begich, the narrator says, “he took on Obama to fix Alaska’s VA.”

  • The San Diego District Attorney’s office will not press criminal charges in two investigations that have threatened Republican Carl DeMaio’s bid for Democratic Rep. Scott Peters’ seat in California. The FBI, however, may be investigating sexual harassment allegations against DeMaio from a former staffer.

  • Ohio Gov. John Kasich told the AP Monday that a repeal of “Obamacare” was “not gonna happen.” But in a subsequent phone call Monday night, he backtracked, saying he was referring only to the expansion of Medicaid. The rest of the law, he maintained, will and should be repealed.

  • The New York Times points out that although Republicans are asking for flight bans from countries affected by Ebola, there actually aren’t any direct flights to the United States from those countries. Instead, House Republicans and Sen. Mitch McConnell now say they want visas suspended for travelers from those West African countries.

  • Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., has scheduled a hearing on Ebola for two days after the election.

  • The speaker of the Alabama state house, Michael Hubbard, was arrested Monday on 23 felony charges.

  • Although they did not endorse in the Democratic primary, the New York Times has backed Gov. Andrew Cuomo for another term.

  • Apparently Virginia Sen. Mark Warner “is the culinary Cousteau for senators hoping to find new hip places in Washington,” if you believe New York Sen. Chuck Schumer.

  • American Bridge goes all Jib Jab on Mitch McConnell with an animated web ad, painting him as a waiter who serves…the Koch Brothers.

  • If you thought that was bad, you haven’t seen the Michigan Republican Party’s “Sharknado” ad attacking Democrat Gary Peters. (H/T: Taegan Goddard.)

  • Keep an eye on the Rundown blog for breaking news throughout the day, our home page for show segments, and follow @NewsHour for the latest.


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