I’m not enthusiastic, either. But I will be.

Over the past month, there has been a series of polls which the media has been painting as portending “trouble for the President’s chances in 2012.”  Which, when you look at them closely, don’t really portend what the pundits say they do.    One of the points that political analysts keep harping about is that the polls show a “lack of enthusiasm” at this time among Democratic voters.    This is, according to the pundits, surprising and means “trouble” for the President.   What it really means is something else entirely.    That is, it means things are normal for a year like this, not that the President is in trouble.

Let’s take a look at the situation, shall we?   It’s 13 months from the election, and we have a sitting President, who is going to be up for re-election.   What does that mean to the average  Democratic voter?  It means that the election is a long ways off, and that the primaries are just going to be rubber stamping.    This is the first time since 1996 that Democrats have been in this position.  In other words, absolutely nothing to get excited about or pay much attention to, right now.   Oh, I know that various idiots on the left are muttering about having a primary challenger for the President, but their lack of a credible candidate or organization to do so just makes it meaningless bitching.

It’s also necessary to remember that to the average person – even many politically aware people – the election is over a year out, and it’s not something they’re thinking a lot of right now.   Let me jump back to this point in 2007.  That year we had a lot of candidates announcing for the Presidency.   It was open season on both sides.  I was politically aware back then, and had a lot of  discussions about the Democratic Party with people in the Party.  Do you know how many people I knew were running in the Party?  I knew the names of about half of them.  I wasn’t even paying attention to it, instead the local elections were my main concern.   Asking me how enthusiastic I was about the election next year would have met with a “Huh?” reply.  I wasn’t.

Now that was in a year with an open field.  This year?  I’m about as enthusiastic, if not less,  as I was back then.  I’m not getting all that worked up right now, because there’s no reason for me to be worked up.  Yes, I’ve donated, and will, to the President and a few other candidates.  But I’m not getting “excited,”  for the simple reason that there’s no reason to be at the moment.  I already know who is going to be the Democratic nominee, so why get hyped up about a primary?  I already know who the Democratic Senate candidate will be (Gillibrand) and who will be the nominee for the House.    No one knows which of the lunatic asylum candidates the Republicans have contending will end up being the nominee.   So from my perspective, all the drama is going to be on the Republican side.  Asking me to to get worked up about the election until the dust settles is a losing proposition.

Which I think is where most Democratic voters are at this point.  Asking them to be “enthusiastic” is ridiculous, because they’re not politically aware at this point.   Their normal lives are getting their attention, and they’re not giving much thought to next year’s election.  I’m not quite in that category, but I’m not all that enthusiastic about the national election right now.  Yes, I will start getting enthusiastic.  In late  May or in June.  That’s when the campaigns get underway in earnest.  Until then?  I’m just keeping an eye on it, but I’m not “enthusiastic.”  Yet.   Which is the point the pundits are missing.  There’s a lack of enthusiasm among Democratic voters now?  No kidding.  Check back next June, why don’t you?


Filed under Politics

26 responses to “I’m not enthusiastic, either. But I will be.

  1. I think it’s been so rarely we Democrats have been in a position like this, that neither the press nor fellow Democrats know how to handle this-a Presidential Primary without drama. The reverse is true for Republicans. As you said, the last time was in 1996, and the previous time before that you have to go back to FDR. (Truman was challenged, JFK was killed before he could bid, Johnson decided not to run, Carter/Kennedy? enough said). The Republicans on the other hand -2004, 1986, 1972, 1956-all without no real challenges. So the Republicans are trying to flex campaigning muscles not often used, while the Democrats are mostly enjoying (except for the frustrati) the luxury of not having to get all that excited yet.

    So in a drama-less primary what does a primary voter do? He’s what I suspect will happen: Obama will campaign by trying to get voters registered, by campaigning for people in crucial districts, and running response ads to Republican attacks.

    Some, not affiliated with OFA, may try to get folks to vote for the least electable Republican available. Cain? Bachmann if she’s still around? Palin as a write-in choice or even third party?

    Besides, I’ve always felt that the bottom line is who people will vote for in the end, not the enthusiasm. I’ll take a reluctant vote for Obama any day over someone who sits it out.

    • I agree that people aren’t used to this with Democrats, but really, if the pundits would think for a moment (yes, I know 🙄 ) this is a situation that Republicans were in for a while. There wasn’t huge enthusiasm in 84, 92, or 04, at this point, mainly because everyone knew who was going to be the candidate. Even so, not many people get terribly excited about elections a year away. There’s too many other things going on that are grabbing their attention. It’s like all the polls trying to “horse race” the general election right now. They’re meaningless, except that it gives the nattering nabobs of negativity (one of the few contributions Spiro Agnew gave to the world) something to natter about. 😆

      • Norbrook, I agree on both points. Most people aren’t going to be worked up about this until people can actually vote on these people. Right now, it’s all straw polls (thank God we never waste our time with that stuff), fundraising and debates. Until January, there’s almost nothing regular people can weigh in on, and a lot of states probably won’t have much input on whoever is the Republican nominee anyway,
        My one concern is about lower level races. Who we send to the Congress and the Statehouse are very important no matter who wins the Presidential. People need to remember we need a firewall against the worst stuff-Presidents can’t do it all, and if Congress is supportive of our goals, then either Obama will have smooth sailing, or at least we will have a Congress not pushing through rotten stuff. Think about what Reagan could have done if he had a unified Congress-or Nixon, or Daddy Bush. A lot of Cheney’s fantasies never came to pass because the Democrats took back the house in 2006.

        • I think we’re starting to see that building, albeit mostly behind the scenes. There’s a lot of recruiting going on for good candidates to challenge the TeaPublican representatives, and various others. Being real, many of them are going to have a hard time simply because they haven’t performed, and people are now aware of just what they mean.

        • Totally agree! I think people in several states are very preoccupied with what the teapotty is doing to them locally. I know I am. For the first time we have a recall election for the president of our state senate in November. The guy’s corrupt and a bigot. It’s been a real battle and it isn’t over yet because the tea money has put up a sham candidate to siphon votes from his opponent. This is being challenged in court.

          Although I have been giving some time to OFA and will be boots on the ground next year, I can only do so much. I’m focused like a laser on my local politics. I think that’s more important right now.

          • Exactly. In New York, the local elections are in the “off years.” That is, this year we’re voting on all the local town and county offices. Next year is the state-wide and National offices. So political junkies in this state aren’t paying a lot of attention to who is going to be doing something next year – there’s a lot of work going on now.

  2. Rose Weiss

    In my local Democratic Executive Committee, a group of devoted political junkies, we are still making plans for “off-year” events. Our campaign office won’t open for months. And a major focus is on encouraging candidates for local offices. All to say that I agree with you completely. With no primary to stir up news, it’s way too early for most people to think about the presidential election.

  3. Obama agrees with you, which is why he’s not barnstorming or putting ads on the air. Instead he’s focusing on training organizers, strategizing, and fundraising.

    People talk about the advantages of an incumbent President, but seldom enumerate them. Here goes:
    1) Doesn’t have to spend a lot of money until after the Convention. Indeed, doesn’t have to really spend much until the primaries. The funds raised can go for lower-cost items such as research and organizing.
    2) Can spend time tailoring the message for several different candidates and not have to do much in return.
    3) Not a lot of travel needed-the President can save his strength until when it really counts.
    4) People know what to expect and is usually a bit more hesitant to chagne horses.
    5) Knows it’s the last campaign, can go all out without the fear of making mistakes.

    Specifically to Obama-people like him, and once again it looks like he’s lucky in his enemies. Name one Republican that will siphon off votes from him, and one Republican that people on the left feel comfortable elnough to stay home. And Obama has a way of turning on the excitement when he has to.

    • In particular, one of the things that various people have forgotten is that Obama is a master at timing. He showed that repeatedly during the 2008 election. I lost count of how many times various pundits and bloggers were hyperventilating about what he “should be doing,” only to see him ignore them and wait until the moment was right to do it. It wasn’t for nothing that the phrase “this is good news for McCain” became a joke among Democrats.

      • “I lost count of how many times various pundits and bloggers were hyperventilating about what he “should be doing,” only to see him ignore them and wait until the moment was right to do it.”

        Funny thing is, they’re doing it again (should I name names?). I guess they cannot help themselves.

      • Observerinvancouver

        I was just thinking this afternoon that they probably have a discreet sign up somewhere in their Chicago HQ: Don’t shoot til you see the whites of their eyes. 🙂

        • LOL! Good one! What people have to remember is that this is a marathon, not a sprint. Pacing is important. You want maximum excitement, enthusiasm, and most importantly, people getting to the polls in November next year. You don’t want to have all that going on in December of this year.

        • ROTFLMAO! We don’t have that sign in our OFA office here but we are getting “locked and loaded” (sorry for the gun analogy but you brought it up first!)

          We have been focused on strategy, planning, fund raising and getting new voters registered with proper ID. When PBO says “GO” we will be ready ♥

  4. Maggy

    Heck, the pundits have been telling him what to do for three years now. Its disgusting and disrespectful. I don’t listen to cable news at all anymore.

  5. Over and over again, we’ve seen Obama’s self-discipline and patience pay off. Bin Laden, Health Care, the 2008 primaries, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. He may seem slow, sometimes doesn’t posture enough for some people, but he carefully plans, plods, strategizes. He’s a hunter who carefully waits until his prey is in the right range and then picks it off with one shot.
    .The same is doubtless true with this non-competitive primary. Obama doesn’t need to fire right now. There’s no Republican prey in sight, and to fire now could backfire and get him a single opponent too early. It won’t do him any good-he’s a guaranteed winner of his Presidential Primary. Ordinary people aren’t even paying attention, and anything now would be forgotten by the beginning of primary season, let alone October of next year.

  6. Don’t short sell momentum. Why sit idle while other side locks in Independent voters while perception of POTUS hardens as lacking public support? It’s not DEM votes that win elections, it’s DEM activism.

    • I’m not selling momentum short. But, you don’t want to peak too early either. Yes, it’s quite possible that we could all get out there, get everyone excited and worked up in January. Unfortunately, the election is in November, and keeping “peak excitement” going is not likely. What you have to realize is that 90-95% of the voting population isn’t paying any attention to what’s going on right now. Independents even less so than party members of either side, since in the majority of the states, they don’t get to vote in primaries. That will change next year, probably in June, once the Republican candidate is selected. The polls show that among Democrats, the President still enjoys strong support. He even has a majority of independents. That few seem to be “enthusiastic” right now is simply a matter of reality, not a support gap.

  7. ArrogantDemon

    The pundit class are always the last to get it.

    If it was up to them, it would be Ghouliani/Clinton for the presidency in 2008, so I take their word vomit with a grain of salt, and some sawdust to cover up said word vomit.

  8. I’m more determined than I am enthusiastic. Determination will guide my actions toward working hard to re-elect PBO because I realize what would happen should he not be re-elected. Enthusiasm, imo, can be short-lived, subject to being changed at the drop of a hat and can cause one to make the wrong choice between two candidates, so I’ll keep my determination, please. I remember the enthusiasm of the tea partiers two short years ago. It helped them win seats in the House, but Americans have soured on them. TeaCon is an attempt to revive the enthusiasm, but if most Americans are like one of my former students, they’ll realize there’s something a bit “off” about them and separate themselves from the TP groups. He lives in SC, said he’d been interested in the TP, joined one, found the members were “crazy,” and stopped participating in their activities.

    • The Tea Party “movement” is looking like a relatively short-lived phenomenon, which got them at most a year, after which it petered out. I think most of the Tea Party “enthusiasm” is pretty much gone. There’s still some from hard-core members, but overall most of the people who turned out in 2010 have gone away.

      I like the “more determined than enthusiastic,” though. It’s what we should be. I’m not “enthusiastic” yet, because it’s a waste of energy right now. I see no point in getting excited, because I’m not going to be able to sustain it for the next 13 months. The average person isn’t going to be able to, either. If we’re lucky, they’ll start paying attention in July next year, and realistically, I doubt they’ll pay a whole lot of attention until the end of September.

  9. Observerinvancouver

    Another aspect is that the poll may appear to be asking if the voter is as enthusiastic as they were in 2008. Well, d’oh! Of course not. That was a once in a lifetime happening.

    • That too! In the primaries we were choosing between running the first major party candidate who was African-American or a woman. Either one would be a first, so obviously there was a lot of build-up, excitement, and enthusiasm about it. Then it was a case of we could have the first African-American President, and of course there was enormous enthusiasm and interest. It was an historic election.

      Now, we’re looking at a reelection. As in, winning again. Which yes, is definitely what I want, and I will work to reelect President Obama. I’ll even get excited about it – later on. But really, the “historic” aspect, the “this is one for the history books” buzz isn’t there.

  10. sjterrid

    I agree with you. I think that many democratic leaders are more focused on the local elections coming up in November. I was at a phone bank for my neighboring district who are electing a Mayor and 3 City Council Members.

  11. Me too! We have a recall election for state senate and a run off for Mayor plus some important local propositions here. I have really had to focus on our local stuff. It’s important! First things first. It sure won’t help to patch the roof while termites eat the foundation of the house!

  12. It is quite nice to have our presidential nominee in place and watch the damage that the Republican candidates are doing to each other and to their party. When the teanuts took over the Republican party they tossed out Reagan’s 11th commandment about not attacking fellow Republicans. In fact all they do is attack fellow Republicans including dissing their own leaders in Congress. They are showing that they can’t govern and, quite frankly, independent voters are pissed about that. All the while making themselves look about as stupid as they possibly can (yes, I know they will be stupider … I am having a hard time imagining what that will look like).

    A quiet enthusiasm for the presidential election is fine for now, a more intense one next year. We need to focus on local elections. In Wisconsin, we have a state assembly to flip and a teaparty governor to fire. That will keep us plenty busy.

    • We also have to remember that right now, the groundwork is being laid for the campaign, and most of that is not “newsworthy” or “getting the public excited.” Oh, look, they’re recruiting and training OFA field coordinators. Oh, wow, they’re opening field offices. 🙄 All of which is dull, boring, non-newsworthy grunt work. But that is the sort of thing that wins elections.