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The Backyard Campaign Strategy

President Obama in backyard

President Obama speaks about health care reform last week in a backyard in Fall Church, Va. Photo by Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images.

The Morning Line

Vice President Joe Biden is expected to hit a backyard in New Hampshire on Monday to raise some campaign coin for Granite State Democrats. We’ve seen President Obama in backyards in Ohio and Virginia over the last few weeks for some “I feel your pain” connecting with small groups of voters. And we’ll see him in yet another backyard in Iowa later this week.

But the small group settings and homey backdrops aren’t the only tool in the Obama campaign arsenal being employed this week. The White House plans to roll out the celebrity version of the president in hopes of recreating some of that 2008 rock star quality he had with his most ardent supporters.

“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,” write the Washington Post’s Kornblut and Rucker.

He plans to continue drawing a sharp contrast with Republicans in an effort to increase the perceived stakes of the midterm election among Democrats. From the Green Room in the White House this morning on NBC’s “Today” show, the president completely dismissed the recent Republican policy agenda rollout.

“What I’m seeing out of the Republican leadership over the last several years has been a set of policies that are just irresponsible,” President Obama said.

“We saw in their ‘Pledge to America’ a similar set of irresponsible policies. They say they want to balance the budget. They propose $4 trillion worth of tax cuts and $16 billion in spending cuts. And then they say we are going to somehow magically balance the budget. That is not a serious approach,” he added.

However, young voters and minorities have proven less likely to show up in midterm election years. And waking that sleeping giant may prove particularly tricky without President Obama’s name on the top of the ticket. With 36 days to go, narrowing the enthusiasm gap between the parties is the president’s most critical mission as he attempts to save his House majority.


A new poll released Monday shows California’s Latino voters remain skeptical of Republican candidates with the general election a little more than five weeks away.

The survey, conducted by the Los Angeles Times and University of Southern California, gives Democratic gubernatorial nominee Jerry Brown a 19-point advantage with self-identified Latino voters over his Republican rival, Meg Whitman.

The margin is even greater for Sen. Barbara Boxer, whose lead among Latinos stands at 38 points over Republican Carly Fiorina.

The California Democrats also received a double dose of good news Saturday as another Times/USC poll looking at the general election matchups shows Brown has taken a narrow lead over Whitman, while Boxer has expanded her margin over Fiorina.

The survey of likely voters gave Brown, the state’s attorney general and former governor, a 49-44 advantage over Whitman, the former chief executive of eBay. Whitman trails despite spending $119 million of her own money on the race.

Whitman’s camp sought to push back on the results, releasing a memo Sunday from its polling team that said the Times poll does not accurately reflect “the current state of the race” because it “under-sampled Republicans.”

Instead, Whitman’s campaign points to the Field Poll as a “far truer representation of California’s 2010 electorate.” That survey released last Thursday showed Whitman and Brown tied, 41-41.

In the Senate matchup, the Times poll had the three-term incumbent Boxer holding a 51-43 lead over Fiorina among likely voters. A Field Poll released last Friday showed Boxer with a six-point advantage over Fiorina, the former head of Hewlett-Packard.


John Kerry is fond of telling people that if half-a-football-stadium-worth of voters at an Ohio State game had voted for him in 2004, he’d have made George W. Bush a one-term president.

That argument wouldn’t hold in the electoral map likely to take shape for the 2012 presidential race, according to the latest information from Election Data Services, which shows Ohio and New York each set to lose two congressional districts in reapportionment. Florida is expected to gain two districts, and Texas is expected to be the winner by picking up four additional House seats.

Writes POLITICO’s Richard Cohen: “According to the EDS estimate, six other states each would gain one seat: Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, South Carolina, Utah and Washington. Eight states would each lose one seat: Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.”

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